•Tallaght, Ballyfermot and Eastern European mobs are behind huge rise in meth on streets •Gangs inspired by cult TV show Breaking Bad to set up drug labs in ordinary homes •Vicious criminals have already killed twice
CRYSTAL meth has become a serious problem in Dublin over the past 18 months and can be linked to the murders of two innocent people, the Herald can reveal.
Criminal gangs in the capital, as well as a number of Eastern European mobs, are heavily involved in the dealing and widescale use of the deadly drug in both Dublin and on a nationwide basis, senior sources have confirmed.
The crystal meth problem -- which has ravaged large swathes of the United States -- is now becoming much more common in this country with officers making seizures outside of Dublin in rural areas of counties such as Wexford, Kerry and Offaly.
Methamphetamine, which is known as crystal meth, retails on the street for the same price as cocaine -- between €70 and €100 per gram according to sources but small 'rocks' can be bought for €25.
The biggest recorded seizure of crystal meth here happened at Dublin Airport in September of last year, when €250,000 of the product -- nicknamed 'Ice' -- was found by customs officers.
The haul was discovered when a 39-year-old man arriving from Lesotho, Africa, was stopped and had his bags checked. Since then, crime gangs have decided to manufacture the drug in labs located in urban and rural homes rather than import it into the country, mirroring what has happened in the cult American TV series Breaking Bad.
In fact, some reports suggest that Irish homemade manufacturers got the idea from watching Breaking Bad in which the main character, who is dying from cancer, turns to making crystal meth to create a financial nest egg for his dependents.
Tablets, like Sudafed, which are commonly taken as a cure for the common cold, can become key ingredients in homemade crystal meth.
Pharmacies in Dublin, Limerick and Kerry have reported significant purchases of Sudafed in their premises.
Crystal meth is a powerful form of speed which comes in the form of white ice crystals and is usually smoked through a pipe, like crack. The highly-addictive drug produces a rush that can last for up to 12 hours, but leaves users with a terrible comedown effect that forces them to use more to feel better.
While it is understood that Eastern European gangs are focusing on the manufacture of crystal meth here, two gangs based in the Tallaght and Ballyfermot areas have been involved in dealing it.
These gangs have already been directly linked to the savage murders of two innocent people -- Kevin Kenny (32) who was stabbed to death outside a Ballyfermot pub in August, 2011 as well as the reckless murder of a girl which can't be outlined here for legal reasons.
"The meth makes people crazed and the reckless violence used by this gang when they were on this substance shows just how dangerous crystal meth is," said a source.
Many of the main players in these gangs have been rounded up by gardai and are currently in custody facing serious charges.
Before being locked up for separate crimes, the thugs -- who are mostly teenagers or aged in their early 20s -- were behind a major crimewave across the country linked to their use of crystal meth.
They were involved in a horrific assault on two gardai in west Dublin last year and an armed robbery at a post office at Oulart, Co Wexford, in June, 2011, in which a 66-year-old postmistress was shot in the elbow and her 31-year-old son shot in the leg.
They were also suspected of aggravated burglaries as well as a number of knife and machete attacks.
The mob are also behind the shooting at a number of houses and involved in a number of armed robberies in the Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Tallaght areas.
Gardai have been aware for many months that tablets like Sudafed, which are normally taken to cure a common cold -- have been used in labs here to make crystal meth.
But the drug has spread far past the Dublin suburbs that this gang has terrorised.
In May of this year, a 32-year-old Polish man admitted possession of crystal meth at Enniscorthy District Court in Co Wexford after gardai found it wrapped in tin foil in a wallet during a drugs search in April of last year.
And last month in Tralee, Co Kerry, detectives recovered a haul of crystal meth worth €8,000.