Thursday, 12 August 1999

Gardai find £1.5m ecstasy tablets after van chase

Irish Independent


Thursday August 12 1999
ECSTASY tablets with a street value of up to £1.5m were seized in an early morning swoop by gardai yesterday.The discovery of 100,000 tablets of the drug, the biggest ecstasy haul so far this year, follows a six-week surveillance operation by the National Drugs Unit who had been tracking members of two drug gangs, one on Dublin's northside and the other on the southside.

The drugs were uncovered in Dublin in the back of a van which at one stage rammed a Garda car pursuing it through rush hour traffic.

The van, which was stopped by gardai at Ballymount near the M50 at about 9am, had earlier set off from a location on Dublin's northside where gardai believe the drugs were loaded.

The tablets bearing the name ``Mitsubishi'' were almost certainly destined for Dublin's club circuit where they sell for between £12 to £15 per tablet. Gardai believe they were brought into Ireland from either Holland or Germany by a relatively small-time gang on Dublin's northside who have moved into the business of importing and distributing drugs in the capital recently.

They sold the drugs on to a southside gang who would have sold the drug to a network of dealers.

Three men found in the van when it was stopped were all known to gardai. Their ages range from 19 to 29 and they are believed to be from the southside. Last night they were still being held at Blanchardstown garda station under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act which allows them to be held for up to seven days.

The biggest haul of ecstasy was last November when more than 250,000 tablets were found in the boot of a car in Dublin.

Although most of the supplies of ecstasy are brought in from countries such as Germany and Holland, gardai fear it may not be long before an underworld factory capable of manufacturing ecstasy and its constituents known as MDMA is established in Ireland.

The current spate of different gangs supplying ecstasy in Dublin owes its origins to the break-up of most of the gang responsible for the death of Veronica Guerin.

This left a void in the drugs underworld which was filled for a period by the drug activities of Brendan `Speedy' Fagan and his associate Paddy Farrell . However their subsequent murders left a fresh void which various smaller drug operators have attempted to fill in recent months.

Gardai believe the gang responsible for yesterday's seizure may well have received their consignment from the same people who supplied the Dublin drug gangs of the mid 1990s. Detectives from the National Drugs Unit were yesterday in touch with their counterparts in the Netherlands.


Friday, 30 July 1999

Guerin case man jailed

Amelia Gentleman
The Guardian, Friday 30 July 1999 01.58 BST

A second man was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the murder of investigative journalist Veronica Guerin who had exposed Dublin's drug-dealing underworld. She was shot dead in her car in June 1996 as she waited at traffic lights.
Drug dealer Brian Meehan, 36, was found guilty of the murder of the Sunday Independent crime correspondent by the special criminal court in Dublin.
Meehan was the driver of the motorbike carrying her killer.
He was also found guilty of 14 offences relating to drugs and firearms.
Paul Ward was jailed for life last year for the same attack, but the search for the rest of the gang continues.

Wednesday, 28 July 1999

Major city drug gang smashed in £750,000 seizure

Irish Independent
Major city drug gang smashed in £750,000 seizure

By TOM BRADY Security Editor

Wednesday July 28 1999
GARDAI believe they have cracked a major Dublin city drug trafficking gang after seizing a £750,000 consignment in a park.Members of the garda drugs unit in Clontarf, backed up by the national drugs unit, uncovered the haul after a week-long surveillance operation in the capital.

Detectives stopped a man who is suspected of being a close associate of a leading north inner-city drug trafficker in St Anne's Park in Raheny and detained him for questioning.

They recovered a haul of cannabis, cocaine and heroin estimated to be worth £750,000 on the streets.

Last night a man and woman were both being questioned by detectives at Clontarf under drug trafficking legislation after their periods of detention were extended.

Gardai said the surveillance of suspects followed weeks of inquiries involving the local unit in Clontarf.

Meanwhile, a routine car search yesterday saw the seizure of cannabis with an estimated street value of £250,000.

Gardai made the find shortly before 8pm outside the village of Rathmore, Co Kerry.

Officers said the driver of a car parked outside the village had been acting suspiciously and an examination of the boot of the car revealed 25kg of cannabis.

A 36-year-old man with an address in Kerry was arrested and is being held in custody.

- TOM BRADY Security Editor

Wednesday, 7 July 1999

Witness too afraid to refuse orders from drug baron

Irish Independent


Wednesday July 07 1999
STATE witness Russell Warren told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that he continued working for a drugs gang leader after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin because he was afraid. STATE witness Russell Warren told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that he continued working for a drugs gang leader after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin because he was afraid.

Warren admitted that his activity in delivering hundreds of thousands of pounds to the continent for the gang leader, Mr A, ``became more intense'' in the months after the journalist's murder.

Questioned why he continued working for Mr A who allegedly ordered the murder, Warren replied: ``I was afraid not to. If I had left or tried to leave I don't think I'd be sitting here today. You can't say no to him.''

Warren has told the court he was the ``bagman'' for Mr A and provided the stolen motorbike used in the murder of Ms Guerin. He also said that the bike was collected on the day of the murder by Brian Meehan, who is on trial for the Guerin murder.

It was the nineteenth day of the trial of Brian Meehan (34), of no fixed abode, and formerly of Clifton Court, Dublin and Stanaway Road, Crumlin, Dublin, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Guerin (36) at Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, on June 26, 1996.

Meehan also denies sixteen other charges alleging that he unlawfully imported cannabis resin into the State on various dates between July 1, 1994 and October 6, 1996.

Cross-examined by Meehan's counsel, John McCrudden QC, Warren admitted that Meehan said to him during a conversation at a pub in Harold's Cross after the murder that Mr A ``had everybody in a mess because he had got Veronica Guerin killed''.

He also admitted that he was told to threaten two other friends of his that anyone who said anything about the stolen motorbike would be dead.

Warren said he believed Meehan was involved in the murder because he gave him the bike and because Meehan test drove the bike the night before the murder.

He said that no one had been paid for the bike which he identified as a motorbike gardai had recovered in parts from the river Liffey and which had been reassembled.

He said he did not know that anyone was going to be murdered when he followed a red Opel Calibra from Naas towards Dublin. Warren told Mr McCrudden that after he saw what happened he ``just felt sick. My legs would not work''.

Warren said that he had never been visited in prison by an official from the Department of Justice and said nobody had negotiated on his behalf.

The trial continues today.


£100,000 seized in swoop on car of drug gang

Irish Independent
£100,000 seized in swoop on car of drug gang


Wednesday July 07 1999
A MAJOR Dublin drug trafficker and four of his suspected associates were arrested by gardai last night for alleged money laundering. Detectives from the garda national drugs unit in Harcourt Square seized almost stg£100,000 in a swoop on a car in the centre of Dublin. Gardai believe the money was to have been used as a down payment to purchase a large consignment of drugs for importation to this country.The drug trafficker, who has been shot twice in the past few years by members of rival gangs, is from the southside of the capital and is a former associate of murdered gangland boss, Martin ``The General'' Cahill.

The five suspects were arrested when the car was intercepted by gardai following a lengthy surveillance operation in the city.

The five were detained under section two of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1994, which deals with money laundering.

They were being held for questioning early today at Store Street garda station.


Sunday, 27 June 1999

Shadows of the godfathers

Irish Independent

Sunday June 27 1999
IN a straw poll of 20 detective sources in Tallaght, Ballyfermot, Store Street, Finglas, Kilmainham, Clondalkin and Coolock, all but three said they thought things would never be as bad as they were in the time before June 1996. IN a straw poll of 20 detective sources in Tallaght, Ballyfermot, Store Street, Finglas, Kilmainham, Clondalkin and Coolock, all but three said they thought things would never be as bad as they were in the time before June 1996.

``It's bad and there are definitely still many attacks and stabbings and underhanded dealings and double-crossing and money going missing from drug deals. There are still some utter thugs, no, complete vicious bastards out there, who feel they can fill the shoes of the big boys who are behind bars and out of the country, but I don't think it's ever likely to become as bad as it was not with the current strategies being employed anyway,'' says a detective who has tracked, amongst others, Tommy Mullen (The Boxer), Georgie Mitchell (The Penguin) and PJ Judge (The Psycho). But attempts have been made to fill the shoes of some of the biggest drug dealers in the country.

A gang has made moves to replace the Boxer. They have a steady network of ``bouncers'' who have been placed strategically on the doors of pubs where many a drug deal is hatched and they are responsible for a substantial amount of the heroin and ecstasy sold on the streets between Coolock, Finglas, the north inner city and Blanchardstown.

But their efforts were interrupted late last year when a massive quantity of heroin was seized in Dublin.

Also on the north side of Dublin, a well-known crime family, whose members ``specialise'' in running the doors on pubs which the toughest of the tough frequent, is attempting to replace a man behind bars over a drugs haul.

He left a void when arrested in 1996 in possession of a substantial amount of ecstasy.

However, gardai have not, to date, been able to put in place a successful surveillance operation to identify the point of entry of their supplies into the country.

IN the south city, a former member of the Gilligan gang is still attempting to import drugs through contacts based in the Ballyfermot area, but two efforts to bring significant consignments into the country have already been thwarted.

Former associates of this man, who continue to live and operate from the Tallaght area, are understood to have turned informer, significantly damaging the operations of several of this group's ``trusted'' lieutenants.

Thursday, 24 June 1999

Meehan `leading figure in a huge cannabis empire'

Irish Independent

Thursday June 24 1999
STATE witness Charles Bowden told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that Brian Meehan, who is accused of murdering journalist Veronica Guerin, was a leading member of a drugs gang that imported huge quantities of cannabis into the country over a two-year period. STATE witness Charles Bowden told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that Brian Meehan, who is accused of murdering journalist Veronica Guerin, was a leading member of a drugs gang that imported huge quantities of cannabis into the country over a two-year period.

Bowden, who is serving a six years sentence for drugs and firearms offences, said that Meehan had given him money to rent a lock-up premises at Harold's Cross in Dublin from where the gang distributed up to 500 kilos of cannabis a week.

He also said that Meehan brought him to a Jewish cemetery at Oldcourt Road in Tallaght and showed him two graves used by the gang to store guns and ammunition which had been smuggled in with the drugs.

The court heard that Bowden (34), who is in the Witness Protection Programme, has been granted ``unconditional and irrevocable'' immunity from prosecution for the murder of Ms Guerin by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was the eleventh day of the trial of Brian Meehan (34), of no fixed abode, and formerly of Clifton Court, Dublin and Stanaway Road, Crumlin, Dublin who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Guerin, (36) at Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin on June 26th, 1996.

Meehan also denies 16 other charges alleging importation of cannabis and possession of arms and ammunition.

Bowden, a native of Finglas, Dublin and a separated father of three, told the court that in 1991 and 1992 he was working as a bouncer in a north Dublin pub when he met a man identified as Mr D and he began holding ecstasy tablets for him.

Thereafter he became involved in the gang's drug activities and said that the profits were split up between himself, Brian Meehan, Mr D, another man Mr C and Paul Ward and he was making between £3,000 and £6,000 a week.

He said that between 300 and 500 kilos of cannabis were distributed from Harold's Cross premises and the consignment would be distributed within two days.

He said that on eight or 10 occasions, weapons and ammunition, including submachine guns, five semi-automatic pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition came in with the drugs.

He said that Meehan brought him up to the cemetery in Tallaght and showed two graves where the guns and ammunition were stored in plastic bags and boxes.

Earlier John Dunne (43), who is serving a three year sentence for importing cannabis and who is in the Witness Protection Programme, told the court that he thought the gang's consignments he brought into Cork from Holland for alleged drugs gang leader, Mr A, initially were tobacco.

He also said the rates he was being paid by the gang for arranging the shipments were ``very, very high''.

The trial continues today.


Wednesday, 26 May 1999

£5m Dutch heist sentence cut for alleged crime boss

Irish Independent


Wednesday May 26 1999
ALLEGED Dublin drugs baron and crime boss George Mitchell, jailed in the Netherlands for his involvement in a £5m computer parts scam, has had his prison sentence cut by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. ALLEGED Dublin drugs baron and crime boss George Mitchell, jailed in the Netherlands for his involvement in a £5m computer parts scam, has had his prison sentence cut by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

Judges yesterday ruled to reduce his two-and-a-half-year sentence imposed by a lower court convicting Mitchell on a robbery count last year to a two-year term.

A defence plea to have the robbery count substituted for the lesser offence of embezzlement was rejected. Under Dutch law prison sentences run concurrently from the date of arrest and a third is remitted for good behaviour. The Irishman is expected now to be freed within months.

Mitchell (49), of Drimnagh, and with an address at Woodfarm Acres, Palmerstown, had told earlier Court hearings that he had set up an import-export business and was doing well bringing in consignments of furniture from Indonesia, which he sold in the Netherlands.

President of Amsterdam Appeal Court Jules Wortel said the Court rejected defence claims that Mitchell had been innocent of involvement in a robbery but instead may have been involved with others in an embezzlement bid. The court was satisfied he was guilty of robbing an Irish lorry laden with computer parts.

Together with the Irish lorry driver and two Dutch nationals, he was tried and convicted of a £5m computer parts robbery from the lorry en-route from the Hewlett Packard plant in Co Kildare to a Dutch customer.

Mitchell, who fled Ireland amid a major Garda crackdown on organised crime after the death of Veronica Guerin in 1996, claimed gardai involved an agent provocateur to try to trap him in Holland.

Dutch undercover police who had been tipped off by their Irish counterparts arrested alleged ringleader Mitchell, the lorry driver and three Dutch members of a gang as the lorry was being stripped of its load near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in March 1998.

In a second Dutch Court of Appeal ruling Dublin born Derek Dalton (31) who convicted of shooting dead a Dutch criminal had his 15-year sentence reduced to 12 years.

The former barman was found guilty last December of gunning down a Dutch drugs trafficker and crime boss in a settling of old scores.


Saturday, 15 May 1999

Crime lords hit for £millions as CAB score grows

Irish Independent

Crime lords hit for £millions as CAB score grows

By TOM BRADY Security Editor

Saturday May 15 1999
THE State's most lethal anti crime weapon has hit its top underworld targets for more than £27m in asset seizures and tax demands in less than three years. THE State's most lethal anti crime weapon has hit its top underworld targets for more than £27m in asset seizures and tax demands in less than three years.

The hugely successful strike rate of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) emerged last night after it scored two major victories in the courts against the country's number one armed robber and a leading drug trafficking family.

The latest victims of the CAB's relentless campaign against the crime barons were millionaire gang boss Gerry ``The Monk'' Hutch and members of the notorious Felloni family.

The CAB was granted a High Court judgment against Dubliner Hutch for £2,031,551, including an assessment of £782,980 for income tax for nine years.

Hutch was named as the prime suspect for masterminding a £1.7m robbery from a security van at Marino, Dublin, in 1987, and the armed robbery of £3.8m from the Brinks-Allied depot at Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, in January 1996.

The judge refused a stay on the order in the event of an appeal and the head of the CAB, Det Chief Supt Fachtna Murphy, will meet with his legal officer Barry Galvin and other senior members of his staff early next week to determine how the money should be collected. In a separate case, the High Court ordered that assets belonged to heroin dealer Tony Felloni and his son Luigi, should be handed over to a CAB receiver and deposited in one bank account, pending a further court order.

Chief Supt Murphy said last night that the decisions represented significant developments for his bureau in its implementation of the special legislation brought in as part of a Government crime crackdown in the wake of the murders of journalist Veronica Guerin and detective garda Jerry McCabe in the summer of 1996.

He declined to comment on how the court decision would be used against Hutch but it is understood that a number of options remain open to the CAB, including the use of a sheriff's certificate, the weapon deployed in a previous high profile case and bankruptcy procedures.

Meanwhile, it was learned last night that the CAB has now served tax demands on suspects for at least £20m while orders for the seizure of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act total more than £7m.

The CAB has also secured court approval for a further £700,000 in social welfare savings by moving against suspects illegally claiming dole benefits.

Other top underworld figures confronted by the CAB include the self confessed Guerin murder gang boss, John Gilligan and his alleged associates, Gene Holland, Brian Meehan and John Traynor.

George ``The Penguin'' Mitchell is on a list of alleged drug traffickers hit by the CAB while other high profile figures who have been targetted for tax include bankrupt Matthew Kelly and former Dublin assistant city and county manager George Redmond.

- TOM BRADY Security Editor

Wednesday, 12 May 1999

'Speedy Fegan, you're a dead man'

The last time they tried to kill him, a bulletproof vest saved his skin. So this time they shot him in the face - 15 times. John Mullin on the fast-living drugs baron whose luck ran out, Wednesday 12 May 1999 02.31 BST
He died as he lived, at breakneck pace. He was only 24, yet he was Northern Ireland's most notorious drugs dealer, worth fabulous amounts and determined to spend it. He was betting ludicrous amounts on the pony he had just bought for £10,000 when the inevitable end came. Brendan 'Speedy' Fegan's assailants burst into the busy Hermitage Bar in his home town, Newry, Co Down, at Sunday lunchtime. They wore theatrical moustaches and wigs, and they took no chances.
A murder bid on Fegan three months earlier in south Belfast failed. His bulletproof vest meant he survived with only a chest wound. So they fired 15 shots, and aimed for his face. Much of his brain was left glued to the bar room floor as the 60 lunch-time revellers mysteriously evaporated into the spring sunshine. As his attackers had strolled towards him, one witness said that Fegan leapt to his feet shouting: 'It's the Provies. It's the Provies.' He had earlier told his bodyguard he could go home, and was reduced to trying to protect himself with a bar stool.
The RUC is investigating whether the IRA, which has murdered at least nine drug dealers in five years, was indeed responsible. Or if he was shot dead by a professional hitman. Or if his killer was the rival dealer behind the earlier murder bid on Belfast's Golden Mile. That shooting hardly dented Fegan's bravado. He escaped to England for a week or so. When he returned, he looked up journalist Jim McDowell, northern editor of the Sunday World, which has spent 18 months exposing his activities. They had a furious slanging match in a busy Belfast street with Fegan brandishing his injury at him.
Fegan's assailant had telephoned McDowell the day after the failed shooting. He asked him to pass on a message to Fegan. It was simple enough: 'Tell him I'll do it right next time.' He was also the target of a firebombing attack at one of two houses he had recently bought in Glengormley, just north of Belfast. After learning of an imminent attack, he had just rented it out to a single mother when the petrol bomb came careering through the window. No one was seriously injured.
Fegan, who inherited his love of horses from his late father, Pat, spent Sunday with his brother, Wayne, and his friends from the travelling community. They bet thousands on illegal pony and trap races on the dual carriageway at Warrenpoint, one involving his new asset. Unable to tell who had won a key race, they returned to the Hermitage with video footage taken by one of the travellers. He drove to the pub in his blue sports car, a Mitsubishi Lancer. He had bought it only that week, paying £25,000 in cash for it.
His love of fast driving had brought him his nickname. When one neighbour once admired another of his cars, Fegan replied openly: 'Well, that's the narcotics business for you.' When the video proved inconclusive, Fegan came up with another wheeze to settle the bet. He suggested that they put the entire pot on a sprint between himself and the traveller down Newry's Canal Street.
Welcome to drug dealing Northern Ireland style. Drug abuse is short of the epidemic there is in Dublin and many British cities. But it is getting there, with heroin taking grip for the first time. Eight people have died from overdoses, and seizures are up tenfold in a decade. The presence here of loyalist and republican paramilitaries complicates who gets rich fastest. Both are becoming more involved.
The IRA, for example, killed eight alleged drug dealers during its last ceasefire, which ended after 17 months in February 1996. It murdered under the cover name, Direct Action Against Drugs. The killings were seen as part of the IRA's strategy in both policing its own communities and saving youngsters from the drugs scourge. DAAD also shot dead Fegan's close friend Brendan Campbell, 30, in February last year, seven months into the IRA's current cessation. The murder was one of two which contributed to Sinn Fein's temporary expulsion from the multi-party talks at Stormont.
Campbell had also survived an assassination bid. He too was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was attacked in south Belfast. The same gun, curiously, is thought to have been used again this month in the failed attack on Ulster Freedom Fighters commander Johnny Adair, 33, when he was shot while on pre-release parole. He received a minor head injury when the gun misfired.
Campbell's luck ran out a month after the first attack on his life, when the IRA was tipped off that he was at Plank's restaurant in south Belfast. When he left with his girlfriend to walk to his BMW parked nearby, he was shot several times in the head. There were reasons other than drug dealing why he was killed. He had flouted republican authority in west Belfast, once drunkenly attacking Sinn Fein's Connolly House headquarters with grenades.
Security sources say that many IRA commanders, while publicly cracking down on small-time dealers, are happy enough to turn a blind eye to most drug trading in their areas, so long as the main operators are paying sizeable sums in protection money. The approach differs from area to area.
Loyalists, though, are directly involved. Several leading terrorists, including the late Billy Wright, are believed to have built huge personal fortunes trading in cannabis and ecstasy. Top drugs dealers are involved with paramilitaries on both sides making them valuable sources of information. That had led to clashes between Special Branch, which focuses primarily on terrorism, and the Drugs Squad.
It is believed that Fegan was an informer on both sides of the border. His murder came two days after Garda intercepted £850,000 worth of cannabis bound for Northern Ireland at Balbriggan, Co Dublin, after a high-speed chase. Police were acting on a tip-off. Despite his notoriety, Fegan was never convicted of any offence. His first port of call after he was shot in Belfast in February was, mysteriously, the RUC station in Musgrave Street.
As a teenager, Fegan became lieutenant to a Newry-based dealer Paddy Farrell, said to be worth up to £40m. He is thought to have double-crossed Farrell on a large consignment of cannabis just before Farrell's bizarre murder in September 1997. It let Fegan off the hook and presented him with an opportunity to move in. Farrell, a married father of three, was shot dead by his lover, 29-year-old Lorraine Farrell (no relation) at her mother's home in Drogheda, Co Louth. She was convinced he was returning to his wife, and planning to move with his family to Florida.
After the couple had sx, she blasted Farrell, naked except for a blindfold, with a shotgun before turning the weapon on herself. She had planned his murder and her suicide so well that she had even bought her own grave a couple of days earlier. But whereas Farrell wisely invested his fortune in legitimate businesses like car dealerships, spendthrift Fegan always needed outside financial backing. One theory is that he provoked his investors' ire after losing several large consignments.
He had close links with the drugs gang which murdered Irish reporter Veronica Guerin, 36, shot dead as she sat in her car at traffic lights on the outskirts of Dublin in September 1996. He was questioned about the killing, and released without charge. He was a distributor of cannabis in Northern Ireland, making up to £50,000 a week. He had, though, recently turned to trading in heroin, with Ballymena, the capital of Ian Paisley's north Antrim constituency, suffering an explosion in abuse and linked crime.
He had become increasingly erratic over the past 18 months. He is said to have ordered the murder of Frankie Turley, an armed robber who was shot dead in Newtonabbey, north of Belfast, after he had stolen a photograph of him and supplied it to the Sunday World. Turley, a small-time armed robber, was the fourth man involved in an armed robbery in west Belfast in February 1990 when the SAS summarily shot dead three men. He escaped by pretending to be one of the stunned punters in Sean Graham's bookmakers. He stole the picture from Fegan's flat in Moira, Co Armagh, one of his long list of addresses. It shows Fegan alongside Campbell in the back of a limousine. Both men are smiling, and Fegan's mobile telephone sits on his lap. He was enraged when the picture appeared in the Sunday World.
Fegan gave two of his henchmen £500 worth of ecstasy each, and ordered them to burn down the newspaper's offices in January. The arson attempts failed to stop the paper focusing on him. He was also severely beaten up by a rival drug dealer after sleeping with his girlfriend. The IRA had told Fegan to stay away from Newry several years ago. As a youngster, he had damaged some cars at a Gaelic football match. It is thought he was exiled for a time, but came back after the IRA's first ceasefire began in September 1994.
Republicans deny there were any recent threats. Sinn Fein, quick to point out it cannot speak for the IRA when the subject is arms decommissioning, said there was no IRA involvement in the killing. Sinn Fein councillor Brendan Curran, chairman of Newry and Mourne council, said: 'The IRA is not going to break the ceasefire and collapse the whole agreement over Brendan Fegan. There is absolutely no evidence to link republicans to the killing. He was a well known drug-dealer, and numerous attempts had been made before on his life. It is widely acknowledged he had numerous enemies.' His well-respected mother, Sheila, will bury him today. She had made sure he wanted for nothing, and he had charm and intelligence. But the writing had been on the wall for him for some time. On one gable end in Newry, reads the message: 'Speedy Fegan. You're a Dead Man.'

Monday, 10 May 1999

Top drugs baron dies in a hail of bullets

Irish Independent
Top drugs baron dies in a hail of bullets


Monday May 10 1999
A LEADING drugs baron died in a hail of bullets yesterday as he enjoyed a lunchtime drink. There was speculation that his death had been ordered by rivals. A LEADING drugs baron died in a hail of bullets yesterday as he enjoyed a lunchtime drink. There was speculation that his death had been ordered by rivals.

Around 60 people looked on as two disguised men walked calmly into Newry's Hermitage Bar, produced handguns and singled out Brendan `Speedy' Fegan, then shot him at close range in the head and chest.

Fegan, 24, visiting his home town despite death threats and warnings to stay away, slumped against the counter and is believed to have died instantly. He was pronounced dead at Daisy Hill Hospital shortly after the 1.30pm killing.

A vicious internal gangland feud was last night widely thought to be behind the killing, although Fegan's last words were described as: ``It was the Provies, it was the Provies.''

Eyewitness Sean Paul White said: ``I heard two shots, then people were running out screaming and blood all over them and all I heard was `Speedy's been shot'.

``A friend of mine came out and told me two men in disguise came in and just shot him. Within five minutes the ambulance came and by this time he was dead.''

Despite his youth, Fegan was regarded as a leading figure in lucrative cross-Border drug trafficking operations. He had connections with major Dublin criminals and is thought to have been earning £20,000 a week buying drugs in the Republic and selling them in the North.

The drug dealer's killers wore wigs and moustaches when they walked into the pub. Eye witness accounts vary only 10 have so far come forward in the wake of the shooting but one report said between five and seven shots were fired.

Fegan survived a number of assassination attempts and was shot in the chest recently in Belfast by loyalists. Fearing for his life, he fled to England from the hospital where he was being treated and took to wearing body armour. It is understood the loyalists lost a substantial consignment of drugs recently to the Garda.

But Fegan had many enemies and his links with loyalist drug bandits are seen as a major factor which could have influenced republican connections to assassinate him.

The drug dealer is also thought to have been implicated in the £850,000 drugs haul intercepted by gardai on its way North at Balbriggan last Friday. One theory is that this bungled operation may have cost him is life.

His Dublin gangland connection led to his arrest by gardai investigating the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. He was questioned particularly about a major drug distribution centre at Greenmount Industrial estate in Dublin's Walkinstown. This was run by Gilligan gang members including Paul Ward, Russell Warren and Charlie Bowden and both drugs and guns were stored there.


Sunday, 4 April 1999

New drugs war brings murder gangs back to Dublin streets

New drugs war brings murder gangs back to Dublin streets
The truce after the death of crusading journalist Veronica Guerin has ended, reports Tony Thompson, Sunday 4 April 1999 02.05 BST

Dublin is being ripped apart in a series of bloody 'turf wars' as drug gangs and criminal families battle for supremacy. The latest wave of violence, which follows a period of relative calm, is shocking even hardened members of Dublin's police force. At least five people have been shot dead this year and dozens more wounded, many bystanders caught in crossfire. Detectives fear an escalation in the number of attacks.
The latest shooting last Wednesday was a classic gangland hit. Two men parked in the car park of the Premier Dairies plant, directly beneath a security camera. When a guard asked them to move, they said they were waiting for a friend and did not want to block traffic on the road outside.
Fifteen minutes later Thomas Reilly, a 35-year-old forklift driver at the plant, was shot in the chest as he arrived for work. The gunman shot him again in the head, killing him instantly.
Supt Tom Conway, who is leading the hunt for the killers, was reluctant to speculate on a motive. But The Observer understands Reilly tipped off police about a major shipment of heroin seized in Dublin this year. A dealer who plied his trade on local estates, he is said to have boasted about removing rival operators by informing on them.
Drug-related shootings in the Irish capital, which reached epidemic proportions during the early Nineties, virtually ended following the death of Veronica Guerin, the investigative journalist who was assassinated by a gunman on a motorcycle in 1996.
The killing led to a massive crackdown, but last week the Gardai acknowledged that gangs have increasingly turned to violence in a bid to carve out new territories.
The sharp increase in drugs-related violence comes as a film based on Guerin's life is due to begin filming in Dublin. Titled Though The Sky Falls, it will star Oscar-nominated American actress Joan Allen, star of Nixon, The Ice Storm and Pleasantville. Pete Postlethwaite and Patrick Bergin will also feature in the film which will be directed by John Mackenzie, best known for The Long Good Friday.
The latest spate of killings is believed to be linked to a number of large drug seizures. Local gangsters are thought to be punishing those suspected of informing and of taking out rivals to expand into new areas.
On 6 January, taxi driver John Dillon, 53, was shot dead outside his home. Dillon, who supplemented his income by hiring out his services as a getaway driver for a notorious gang of armed robbers and drug smugglers, had been arrested in connection with a raid a few months earlier. He was released without charge, but the gang believed he was planning to turn informer.
His body was found in the porch of his home in the town of Finglas. He had been shot in the head with a shotgun at point-blank range at least three times.
On 27 January, Paschal Boland, 43, was shot dead as he arrived at his home in the Mulhuddart district of Dublin. A major heroin dealer in the Eighties, he had been released from prison in 1994 and had been building up a cannabis distribution empire. Keen to increase his profits, he had ignored threats from rival dealers in Blanchardstown.
As his car pulled up outside his home, a masked gunman fired six bullets, hitting Boland in the chest at least four times.
On 9 March, Alan Bryne, a key witness in a drugs-related murder trial, was shot three times in the back by a gunman disguised as a road worker. Bryne, who narrowly survived, is now on a witness protection programme.
Other recent killings include that of fast-food delivery man Gerard Moran, a small-time drug dealer and hard man who was shot dead after being lured by a bogus call asking him to deliver a pizza.
A new wave of turf wars is expected following the arrest last month of the man said to be at the head of Dublin's criminal gangs. Dubbed 'Houdini' after twice cheating death, the 45-year-old was shot at last September as he walked through his home town of Crumlin.
The two shots fired from a speeding car both missed as he dived for cover. Two weeks later, he was walking with his wife when a shotgun blast missed him by inches. The gunman gave chase and fired twice more, but missed both times.
While in prison last year, Houdini was attacked by former colleagues who believed he had informed on them. They cut his ears into points with razor blades to make him 'look like the rat he is'.
Despite being hunted by police and rival gangsters alike, he believes he is untouchable and remains openly defiant. During a recent interview with police, he smeared excrement on his face and stared at the wall for more than an hour, refusing to answer questions.

Thursday, 1 April 1999

Fears of renewed gangland terror

Irish Independent


Thursday April 01 1999
IT IS almost as though organised crime is trying to make a comeback on Dublin's streets after the relative calm that followed the death of Veronica Guerin. IT IS almost as though organised crime is trying to make a comeback on Dublin's streets after the relative calm that followed the death of Veronica Guerin.

In the three months of 1999 so far, there have been three murders linked to Dublin gangs. All three are also believed to have been drugs-related.

Cannabis dealer Paschal Boland (43), was gunned down in the driveway of his home in a gangland style shooting in Blanchardstown. A few weeks earlier, taxi driver John Dillon (53) was shotgunned to death in his home at Glenties Park in Finglas South.

And yesterday's slaying of Tom Reilly in a Dublin car park bore the hallmarks of a gangland shooting.

Mr Reilly's killers knew where he worked, what shift he was on and that he would arrive at the Premier Dairies car park close to 9am.

Gangland murders were virtually stamped out after Veronica Guerin's murder. But in the two or three previous years there had been a spate of ``contract killings'', many with common characteristics.

In August 1994, Martin `The General' Cahill was shot in his car during a routine trip to a video shop by two men on a motorbike.

In October of that year, Patrick Shanahan was shot with a handgun as he left the fitness club he attended twice a week.

David Weafer died after receiving a single shot to the head at his home in Finglas in June, 1995.

The same month, Francis Preston was shot leaving his home in Baldoyle, Co Dublin by a cyclist. Preston left his house at the same time every day.

Gerard Connolly died from chest wounds delivered through the glass door of his home by a gunman in August, 1995.

In November of that year, Eric Shortall was shot three times while walking with his girlfriend near his home.

Eddie McCabe and Catherine Brennan were both killed by shots fired on their car as they drove from Brennan's home to a nearby petrol station.

Also in November, 1995 Christy Delaney was killed by a gunman at his Finglas home.

In March, 1996 Gerry Lee was shot at close range by a man who knew his name at a house in Coolock.

In the following month, John Reddan was gunned down in the Blue Lion pub in Parnell Street, Dublin and John Kelly was shot by two gunmen at his house in Clondalkin, Co Dublin.


Monday, 22 March 1999

Ex-tax chief met `The Monk'

Irish Independent


Monday March 22 1999
A FORMER tax official whose wife was murdered in mysterious circumstances six years ago has confirmed he had meetings with gang boss Gerry Hutch. A FORMER tax official whose wife was murdered in mysterious circumstances six years ago has confirmed he had meetings with gang boss Gerry Hutch.

James Livingstone is reported to have met the leading Dublin criminal known as `The Monk' three times over the past two years.

But the former tax inspector has denied claims he ever acted as a tax adviser to Hutch, who is fighting a £2m tax bill from the Criminal Assets Bureau. He said the meetings were arranged after he learned that Hutch had ordered surveillance on him, and he wanted to gain information about the unsolved murder of his wife Grace in December 1992.

``I did not, and do not and will not act as a tax adviser to The Monk or any other person whose tax affairs I was acquainted with while I worked for the Revenue,'' he is reported to have said.

He found out about the surveillance from newspaper reports which revealed that video footage of him had been recovered in a raid on Hutch's home in Clontarf in 1997.

The video tape was recovered along with a copy of the Crimeline report into the investigation of the murder of Mrs Livingstone, who was found shot dead in the bedroom of her Malahide home.

Mr Livingstone is currently suing the State over the handling of the investigation into his wife's murder.

He was arrested by gardai during the inquiry but freed without charge.


Saturday, 13 March 1999

Judge jails Englishman over £5m heroin haul

Irish Independent


Saturday March 13 1999
AN ENGLISHMAN who imported £5m worth of heroin on behalf of a major Dublin drugs organisation has been jailed for six years.Robert Russell and his former business partner, Gary Blake, had made nine or ten previous trips on behalf of the west Dublin gang since February 1998. They were both offered a fee of £2,500 and £500 expenses for the job.

Russell (33) of Glenhurst Cresent, Manchester and Blake of Copster Hill, Oldham, Manchester pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to importing 18.5kg of heroin on October 31, 1998.

Blake had his sentence adjourned to March 24 next to enable a psychological report to be prepared.

Detective Sergeant Gregory Sheehan told prosecuting counsel Fergal Foley BL that Russell was one of four people who came to Dun Laoghaire on the ferry with two hired Ford Mondeo cars. Gardai arrested them at the Royal Marine hotel and recovered 18.5kg of heroin with a street value of £5m.

The heroin was concealed in the lining of the rear-door panel of both cars. A total of 20 packets of heroin were found in one car and 18 in the other.

Russell and Blake were accompanied by their girlfriends, Joanna Schofield (30), of Glenhurst Cresent and Cheryl Hume (20), of Copster Place, Oldham, Manchester. The women have also pleaded guilty to the same charge and been remanded on bail for sentence on October 20 next.

Det Sgt Sheehan said the girlfriends were used as a form of camouflage during the operation and were aware something was going on but didn't understand the scale of the operation.

Both men had become involved in importing the heroin after getting into financial difficulties with a sandblasting business they had started in Manchester. Russell has three minor previous convictions.

Defence counsel Barry White SC (with Martina Baxter BL) asked Judge Catherine Dunne to consider that Russell had a difficult upbringing and his brothers had fallen by the wayside. He left school at an early age and since then had always done his best to keep employment in various jobs to help support his mother.

Mr White asked Judge Dunne to read testimonials submitted on behalf of Russell and his partner, Ms Schofield. He said Russell pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and had met this case in a frank fashion. The court shouldn't leave him without hope and ``should leave him some light at the end of the tunnel'', by allowing him to return to England before his daughter was too old.

Mr White said a prison sentence for Russell would be more difficult for an Englishman as he would not be visited by his family. He was already in the separation unit of Mountjoy where there was no recreational facility.

Judge Dunne said the tragedy caused by drugs was unveiled daily in the courts, where most of the crime was caused by drugs. There was also the tragedy of so many destroyed and lost lives as a result of heroin. Russell became involved on his own admission to make money.

``The Russells of this world make it possible for the masters involved to survive and prosper and it would send out the wrong signal if the court didn't impose a long sentence,'' she said.

Judge Dunne noted Russell was working in prison to improve himself and a testimonial had also been received from the prison assistant governor. She would review the sentence in October 2001.


Tuesday, 2 March 1999

Sentence put back on Gilligan drug gang `cashiers'

Irish Indepedent


Tuesday March 02 1999
FOUR people who counted drugs cash for the John Gilligan crime gang have been remanded in custody again for sentence after Judge Dominic Lynch heard details of their statements to gardai. FOUR people who counted drugs cash for the John Gilligan crime gang have been remanded in custody again for sentence after Judge Dominic Lynch heard details of their statements to gardai.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that a couple and their daughter were hired by drug gang `accounts clerk' Russell Warren to count large bags of cash.

The operation, in which more than £1.5m was counted by them, began two days after journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered and ended when gardai raided their home in September 1996. They were paid sums of £50 and £25 for each counting session and claimed they had saved up to £600 each in a credit union as a result.

Russell Warren has been given a five-year jail term for money laundering and is under the Witness Protection Programme.

Judge Lynch said he needed time to assess the evidence and adjourned sentencing to this Thursday.


Yvette and Patrick Warren (both 69), and Nicola Warren (26) pleaded guilty to handling money they knew was the proceeds of drug trafficking or other crimes, at their home in Heatherview Lane, Tallaght in 1996.

Nicola Warren's husband, Brian Cummins (26), of Clonfert Road, Crumlin, also pleaded guilty to handling more than £10,000 on behalf of the Gilligan gang.

Patrick Warren told gardai that Russell claimed the money was for cigarettes and tobacco. It wasn't until later he realised the money was for John Gilligan after he became suspicious that the counting was going on for too long and he never saw any cigarettes.

He said his son would ask them to count one or two plastic bags he would leave on the stairs and return in a couple of hours when they had finished counting. He said he would bring bundles of money into the house twice weekly.

Two yellow notepads were kept in the refrigerator containing the values of money counted. No other records were kept.

Patrick Warren said he was married for 49 years and never spent a night apart from his wife. ``I am disgusted he got me and my wife in this position,'' he told gardai.

Yvette Warren said she didn't know where her son collected the money from but knew it was from different men. She said millions of pounds must have been counted in the house and said she had counted £70,000-£100,00 per week since June of that year. Russell indicated to the family that people were getting shot if anything was said. She had asked her son if he had anything to do with shooting and he replied, ``no''.

Paul O'Higgins SC, defending, asked Judge Lynch to consider the accused persons had admitted their guilt and weren't actually charged until two years later, resulting in the matter weighing heavily on them.


Monday, 1 March 1999

Garda unit smashes top heroin gang cash racket

Irish Independent


Monday March 01 1999
GARDAI have smashed the money laundering operation of a gang reputed to be the biggest heroin suppliers to this country. The gang is believed to have been importing heroin worth about £1m a month for the past two years.The massive money spinning racket was masterminded by a young criminal, originally from Ballyfermot in Dublin, after he moved base to Manchester and set up an operation there.

The latest breakthrough for the Gardai came at the weekend with the arrest of a man suspected of taking the proceeds from the monthly shipments across the Border, converting the punts to sterling and then shifting the cash to Manchester.

The arrest followed a joint investigation by the Garda national drugs unit and the Manchester police major crime unit into the gang's activities over the past six months.


Gardai, led by Det Chief Supt Ted Murphy, moved in on the gang initially last September after keeping a watch for almost a week on a £7m heroin consignment buried on land near Balbriggan in north Dublin.

That seizure led to a major crackdown by the two police forces, culminating in the joint seizure of heroin worth £25m in four hauls here and in Britain and a firearms find in Manchester.

The weekend suspect, a builder in his 50s and originally from Co Mayo, was detained by detectives in Balbriggan and was also questioned about his alleged role in the importation of several heroin shipments.

As a result of the garda seizures, the price of heroin on the streets of the capital has jumped from £10 to £16 a deal because of the shortage of supply for addicts.


Gardai believe that the Ballyfermot criminals had very few links with more established drug trafficking gangs before setting up their headquarters in Manchester but quickly became the main suppliers of heroin to Dublin in the past two years.

Meanwhile in a separate operation at the weekend, detectives from the Garda national drugs unit smashed a cannabis importation route from Britain to Limerick.

A British courier was stopped by detectives at Dublin Airport where he was due to have been met and brought by limousine to Limerick.

As a result of the operation detectives seized cannabis worth about £200,000 on the streets.

* Gardai seized ecstasy tablets and cash in a raid on a flat in the centre of Tullamore early yesterday. Five gardai took possession of 200 ecstasy tablets worth £2,000 in the 3.40am raid. Two men were arrested. A large number of people were in the flat when gardai arrived.


Tuesday, 23 February 1999

Family handled Gilligan drugs gang's profits

Irish Independent


Tuesday February 23 1999
AN elderly couple, their daughter and son-in-law, were used by the John Gilligan drug gang to count and distribute over £1.5m, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard. AN elderly couple, their daughter and son-in-law, were used by the John Gilligan drug gang to count and distribute over £1.5m, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

The couple's other son, Russell Warren, was an ``accounts clerk'' for Gilligan and recruited his family members for the criminal enterprise, the court was told.

Russell Warren has been jailed for four years for laundering money for the Gilligan gang and is under the Witness Protection Programme.

Judge Dominic Lynch was told the accused were apprehended during the investigation into the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

Yvette Warren and Patrick Warren (both 69) pleaded guilty to handling money they knew was the proceeds of drug trafficking or other crimes, at their home in Heatherview Drive, Tallaght, on four dates between June and September 1996. Their daughter Nicola pleaded guilty to one count of the same offence.

She and her husband Brian Cummins (26), of Clonfert Road, Crumlin also pleaded guilty to handing over £10,000 to another man on behalf of the Gilligan gang in September 1996.

Detective Garda John Poole told prosecuting counsel Tom O'Connell BL that Yvette and Patrick Warren are parents of Russell Warren, whom he called an ``accounts clerk'' for the a gang lead by John Gilligan. Both are also under special garda supervision.

From June 1996 onwards, the couple and their daughter, Nicola, were hired to count large bags stuffed with cash which was brought into the house by Russell Warren.

Brian Cummins and Nicola Warren travelled together on September 28, 1996 to the car park of the Belgard Inn in Tallaght and passed on £10,000 to another man.

Following the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, the Warren family home was raided in September 1996. Gardai found Ir£56,505 and Stg£7,500 inside.

All four accused made full confessions when arrested two days later. Each had been paid a very small amount for their services, with about £600 in total being given to Patrick and Yvette and a lesser amount going to Nicola.

Defence counsel Paul O'Higgins SC said all four were before the court as ``slightly bizarre and unplanned characters in the wider tapestry of matters which have now become notorious.'' They had had not come to the attention of the gardai before this.

Judge Lynch said that he needed time to consider the case and remanded all four for sentencing today.


Saturday, 30 January 1999

Gardai probe leads in `kneecap' murder

Irish Independent


Saturday January 30 1999
MURDERED businessman Terry Madden bled to death from a severed artery after what gardai suspect was a botched kneecapping. A post-mortem examination confirmed that Mr Madden was shot in the back of both legs. Gardai are investigating a theory that the 52-year-old father of three was shot in a disagreement over a business deal.But senior officers said last night they were following a number of leads in their inquiry into the brutal slaying of the south Sligo community worker.

One source said: ``Mr Madden was a very active man in the community and involved with several groups and organisations. It is possible there may have been a falling out with members of one of them but at this stage it is only conjecture.''


Gardai said that while Mr Madden was the victim of a paramilitary-style shooting there was no firm evidence to suggest that a terror gang was behind the attack.

Mr Madden was on his way to a meeting in Dublin when he was shot at 8am outside his newly built 5-bedroom bungalow at Monasteraden on the shores of Lough Gara on Thursday. Reports that two men were seen driving away from the scene are being investigated.

Garda Inspector Michael Barrett said he believed that locals could be more helpful in the investigation.

``Our response from the public has been good so far but locals may have information which they think is insignificant. They should come forward and we are determined to solve this.''

Inspector Barrett said that 50 officers from the north-west were involved in the murder hunt.

Meanwhile, local priest Fr Michael Henry said he hoped the killing would bring the community closer.