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PJ Browne: Inside deadly spiral of violence in the microcosm of Dublin's drugs gangs

DRUG dealers are the most despised people in local communities.

Despite their reputation for causing destruction and misery, they easily attract impressionable young bullies and hoods to be their delivery or messenger boys.

As the young hoods get older, the dealer increasingly relies on them to go around collecting drug debts.

Inevitably, some debts aren't paid -- then two people have a problem, the collector and the debtor.

The dealer will order his messenger to take the debtor out -- the implied threat being kill him or get killed yourself.

The messenger will usually get coked up and get a gun from another thug who keeps the gang's armoury. In a few short steps the youngster becomes a gang killer -- a hitman with a new standing in the gang.


This reputation comes with a price -- increasing drug use to cope with the psychological trauma, paranoia and jealousy.

The "respect" the killer gets within the gang, however, encourages others teenagers to try to emulate the killer and and the circle of violence widens. Within the gang, there is absolutely no respect for society, the police or their neighbourhood.

Individual gang members get caught up in a deceitful web, constantly at the beck and call of the mob leader.

"If you don't comply you get taken out" becomes the mantra.

All the time, gang members must be careful not to become or appear to be too powerful. Then they become a threat to the leader. If an associate oversteps the mark, he is in a dangerous place, so he either takes the leader out or he is taken out himself.

Whichever way it happens, a vacancy occurs and an opportunity arises for another youngster to be recruited or promoted.

I often wonder if the public generally and the legislators have decided that there is an acceptable level of crime?

Is it because the gangs are killing between themselves? Remember that young apprentice plumber Anthony Campbell, who was gunned down in Marlo Hyland's home?

He had nothing to do with gangland, he was an innocent, doing a day's work.

As long as the public don't stand up against these murderous hoodlums, we are going to see many more innocents caught in the crossfire.