Saturday, 31 December 2005

CRIME: The drug gangsters took their deadly feuds public in the last 12 months.

His hostile gesture may yet have more far-reaching consequences than he could ever imagine.

Saturday December 31 2005
This was the year when the gangland killers became more clinical - coldly dispatching their victims in a businesslike fashion, sometimes in full view of ordinary people going about their daily lives.
November and April were significant low points. Both months saw a spate of gang murders as a new and deadlier breed of urban drug pushers went about systematically wiping each other out.
With the number of gang killings for the year tipping 20, concerns are again being voiced that organised crime - especially the highly lucrative drug networks operating out of certain Dublin suburbs - will never be eliminated.
The drug turf wars reached a nadir in mid-November when three members of rival gangs from the Crumlin and Drimnagh areas were killed in two callously executed attacks. The killings displayed a businesslike ferocity which has rarely been seen previously.
In the first, Darren Geoghegan (26) and Gavin Byrne (30) were shot to death in their car on a Sunday night in a residential street at Firhouse. They were apparently lured to the scene by their killers. The attack brought the death toll in the feud to six.
Forty-eight hours later, drug dealer Noel Roche (27), was shot and killed in the passenger seat of a car which had stopped at traffic lights on the Clontarf Road. He had reportedly earlier been at a Phil Collins concert at The Point, but left after becoming alarmed at seeing somebody in the crowd. He was the second in command of one of the warring factions. In March, his brother John was gunned down in Kilmainham - killed, gardai believe, by Darren Geoghegan.
In May, the killers showed they could operate with impunity in broad daylight. Drug dealer Mark Byrne (29) was clinically gunned down as he walked down a busy city street. Just minutes earlier, he had left Mountjoy Prison on temporary release.
Also in May, gardai lying in wait shot dead Colm Griffin (33) and Eric Hopkins (24) during an attempted robbery at Lusk post office in north Co Dublin.
As the year's body count mounted, Minister McDowell was forced to admit that he was wrong in his prediction that the gangs were on the way out. He withdrew his comment, made after a gangland murder in west Dublin in late 2004. The killing in question appeared to signal the end of the notorious Westies gang. At the time, the Minister described it as "the sting of a dying wasp".
However by November 2005, after three gang assassinations in as many days, he acknowledged that this earlier analysis had been "over-optimistic". He admitted he hadn't reckoned on the emergence of other rival gangs who were just as lethal and quick to kill.
The frightening ability of the Dublin gang scene to renew and regenerate itself was summed up in more colourful terms by one senior garda officer. Describing the crime situation in certain parts of the city, he said: "It's like trying to clear out a house infested with rats. As soon as we have things under control in one area, something happens in another."
In the Dail, Fine Gael Justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe spoke of "a tide of lawlessness" sweeping Dublin's streets and warned that the city was getting "like Chicago in the 1930s". But true to form, the Minister refused to cede any ground to the new drug lords.
He announced that a special 50-strong team of detectives was being sent out to prevent further bloodshed. The new unit would focus exclusively on the crime gangs in a very direct way. Its brief was to "sit on" known gang members, monitor their activities, find out who they were associating with and, where possible, disrupt their criminal operations.
Mr McDowell also signalled the government's intent by announcing in the estimates an extra €146m for the gardai, a 13% funding increase. He said this would enable the government to meet its target of 14,000 gardai and recruits by the end of 2006, with the emphasis on frontline policing.
The Minister also scotched the notion that as long as the gangsters confined themselves to killing each other, it didn't really involve or effect the rest of society. "We have to be clear," he told the Dail, "that murder is murder. And regardless of motive, the gardai are determined to do all in their power to bring the perpetrators of these and similar offences to justice."
A feature of the capital's gang network is that some of the criminal groupings are quite small - literally no more than a handful of people. But they are willing and able to protect their lucrative cocaine and heroin dealing operations with ruthless and lethal efficiency. This was particularly evident in the Crumlin feud where the warring factions used to be partners.
There was speculation that a number of recent killings may have been the work of hired ex-republican assassins. Certainly the professional manner of some of the high-profile slayings suggests they were carried out by experienced operators.
The recent interception of booby-trap bombs, apparently destined to explode beneath rival gangsters' cars, also appears to indicate the involvement of former paramilitaries.
Of course, the drug gang killings weren't entirely confined to Dublin. One of Cork's most notorious drug figures, Michael 'Danser' Ahern (38) died in gruesome circumstances in southern Portugal - the apparent victim of an international turf war. He was beaten and shot four times in the head before his body was hidden in a freezer in a luxury apartment.
The killing with the biggest impact of all in 2005 also occurred outside the jurisdiction. The stabbing of Robert McCartney outside a Belfast bar on a Sunday evening in January caused massive political reverberations on both sides of the border.
It was also the year when anti-social behaviour by young louts finally made it on to the national agenda. As the year comes to an end, wanton vandalism and aggression by youngsters continue to ruin the quality of life of countless ordinary citizens throughout Ireland.
New measures to curb the most serious of these offences - including anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) - are proposed by Minister McDowell in legislation currently before the Oireachtas.
But the gun image which most people will remember from 2005 had nothing to so with gangland killings. It was the photograph of grinning Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, on a visit to the Curragh army camp, pointing a handgun at press photographers. His little joke could hardly have been more badly timed - coming the day after the latest fatal shooting in Dublin.
Given the mayhem which firearms have wreaked in his own native Limerick, it was a particularly ill-judged gesture.
Back on the killing streets of Dublin, few people have any realistic expectation that gang crime can be eliminated. The best that anyone - including the gardai - can hope for is some kind of limited containment.

Monday, 12 December 2005

Man found shot dead in stairwell of flats

Monday December 12 2005
A MAN was being questioned by gardai last night after another fatal shooting in Dublin early yesterday.

The body of the dead man, who has not yet been named, was discovered in the stairwell of a flats complex in Ballymun.

Detectives investigating the shooting believe it followed a feud in the north Dublin suburb.

The dead man and the suspect arrested in connection with the death are both known to gardai.

Local reports suggested that a confrontation took place shortly after 5am and it is understood a number of people were in the vicinity at the time and some of them may have been returning home from a party in the area.

The victim was originally from Finglas but had lived at a number of addresses in the Ballymun area in recent years.

The arrested man is in his late 20s and was brought to Santry Garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. He can be held for 72 hours without charge.

A post-mortem examination took place last night at the Dublin City Morgue in Marino to ascertain the exact cause of death.

There were initial questions as to whether the man had died as a result of a severe beating or a gunshot. It was later established that he died as a result of a gunshot wound. He had no connection with any of the gangland killings which have followed drug disputes between rival gangs in Dublin's Blanchardstown or Crumlin/Drimnagh areas.

His body remained for several hours at the flats complex on the Shangan Road yesterday as Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis and garda forensic teams carried out their examinations.

A number of people came forward yesterday to assist gardai with their enquiries but they are still looking for a number of other witnesses who they believe can help them.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Gardai on 01- 6664400.

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Gangland murders . . .we don't care

Sunday Tribune

As long as innocent people are not injured, 60% say they are not concerned about criminal feuds
John Burke
ALMOST 60% of people agree that the public does not care whether gangland murders occur, as long as innocent people are not injured.

The survey indicates a significant ambivalence among the public towards the criminal victims of gang feuds. Eighteen people have been murdered in gangland assasinations this year, a 10-year high.

Gang killings so far this year account for almost one in three of all violent deaths, compared to fewer than one in six last year. The majority of victims have been young men who were known to gardai for involvement in organised crime and drug-dealing, such as brothers Mark and Andrew 'Madser' Glennon, who were involved in a bloody feud with former members of the Westies gang in Dublin before they were slain in September and April of this year respectively.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that "people generally don't care about gangland killings as long as innocent people are not hurt, " indicating little sympathy among the public for victims who are believed to have themselves been linked to previous shootings and crime. Thirty-seven per cent did not agree with the statement while 4% said they did not know.

The large number of fatal shootings that has occurred this year has had a dramatic effect on the perception of how gardai are handling gang crime. More than three in four people surveyed said that they believe the gardai are "losing the war against organised crime in Ireland." Only 20% said that they do not believe gardai are losing the struggle against the gangs while 4% said they did not know.

Acknowledging that there is growing unease at the level of murders carried out by organised crime gangs, primarily by Dublin-based criminal outfits involved in long-term internecine feuds, additional funding was made available last month by garda commissioner Noel Conroy to establish a 50-man organised crime taskforce, headed by well-regarded Chief Supt Noel White.

The survey also reveals that over 80% of people now believe that gangland crime is worse than it was before journalist Veronica Guerin was brutally murdered nine years ago. Subsequent to the crime reporter's killing in 1996, the government initiated a raft of legislation including the incorporation of the criminal assets bureau (CAB). Twelve per cent said they believed that gang crime was worse before Guerin's death while 6% did not know.

While the CAB took almost 19m from criminals last year and froze assets and cash worth almost 6m, according to its annual report for 2004, there are strong indications that the main beneficiaries of the drugs trade in Ireland are expatriate drug suppliers living on mainland Europe who fled Ireland after post-Guerin garda operations. Many of these have accumulated significant assets outside the CAB's jurisdictional ambit.

Reacting to the increased number of gangland murders this year, justice minister Michael McDowell last month announced a series of major initiatives to tackle criminality, including the tagging of offenders, a new prohibition on the membership of a criminal organisation, laws in relation to the possession of an adapted sawn-off shotgun as well as proposals for anti-social behaviour orders.
December 11, 2005

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Arrest breakthrough on gangland street murder

Wednesday December 07 2005
Clues left behind after 'opportunistic' killing led to teenage prime suspect

Tom Brady

Security Editor

GARDAI have made a breakthrough in their investigation into the gangland murder of Noel Roche (27) on the northside of Dublin.

A prime suspect was being questioned by detectives last night after an intelligence operation opening up new lines of inquiry.

The suspect (19) is from a housing estate off the North Circular Road and is known to have a number of haunts in the Cabra area.


In a joint move by local gardai and the national bureau of criminal investigation, detectives swooped on a house in Cabra on Monday night and detained the teenager.

He was being held last night at Raheny garda station, under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, regarding the killing, alleged possession of a firearm and a possible connection with the getaway car used by the killers.

Mr Roche was shot dead in the front passenger seat of a black Mondeo car which was ambushed by members of a rival faction near the Yacht pub in Clontarf on November 15 last.


He was the seventh man to be killed as part of a five-year feud between two drugs gangs in Crumlin-Drimnagh.

Criminals from both sides had been part of one gang until 2000, when gardai acted on a tip-off to seize a €1.5m ecstasy haul at a hotel in Dublin. The gang then split in two, and the rival leaders vowed to eliminate each other.

The murder of Mr Roche is believed to have been an opportunistic crime rather than a planned killing.

The killers abandoned their getaway car, which had been stolen in Blessington, Co Wicklow, and left behind vital clues which could help gardai to identify them, including the handgun used in the murder, balaclava helmets and other clothing. Detectives believe the gunman spotted Mr Roche at a Phil Collins concert in the capital earlier in the night and an ambush was set up.

Mr Roche took his girlfriend to her northside home and was on his way back towards the southside of the city when the car, driven by his 32-year-old associate, came under fire.

The driver was subsequently arrested by gardai but refused to co-operate. He was released without charge and immediately went into hiding, as he feared he could be next on the hit list.

In contrast, the double murder of Darren Geoghegan and Gavin Byrne two nights earlier at Carrigwood in Firhouse was carefully planned.

The getaway car, stolen in Lisburn, Co Antrim, and the gun used in the attack were subsequently set on fire by the killers.

The suspect in garda custody last night had not been linked by detectives to either faction in the feud until recently.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, three men were being questioned by gardai last night about a gang feud which has resulted in nine shootings in the past three years.

The feud is being waged by neighbouring gangs based in the Coolock area on the northside of Dublin.

The suspects, all in their 20s, were arrested by armed detectives after a 24-year-old man was shot in the thigh at a house at Ardara Avenue, The Donahies, Donaghmede, on Monday.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Blood brothers

Sunday Tribune

Dubliner Joe Egan sparred with Mike Tyson when they were teenagers, and they have remained friends through the bad times and the good
Paul Howard
One of the many odd little ricks to Cus D'Amato's personality was that he liked silence at the dinner table.

When his sister-in-law, Camille, served up one of her meals to the tight little kinship of fighters who shared the D'Amato home, the avian chatter of the gym died and no more poured from your lips than was required by the exigencies of good tables manners. Pass the bread.

Pass the salt. Anyone like more meat?

Joe Egan recalls his dinner at the table, how out of sync he felt, a kid from Dublin suddenly thrust into this odd little commune in upstate New York. He remembers the catch in his chest from the homesickness as he stared across the mountains of pumpkin and sweet potatoes at this black guy, who was 17, like him, but who everyone said was going to be the heavyweight champion of the world.

Back in Ringsend the Egans had their own rule about elbows on the table and Joe quickly up that the man who was in effect now his guardian liked to eat his dinner in silence. Except that he forgot himself when Camille served him up a bowl of thick Scottish broth. "That's a gorgeous soup, " he said and every set of eyes around the table riveted in his direction.

"You know, " Cus said, after a studied silence worthy of De Niro, "in my time, I've heard of plenty of ladies that was called gorgeous . . . but, hey, never a soup!"

The entire table dissolved into laughter. It was how Joe broke the ice with his new family and this black kid who could become his lifelong friend.

Their careers took off on different trajectories. Three years later, while still only twenty, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of all time. Joe's professional career ended almost as soon as it began, after a bus crash on the road between Belfast and Dublin.

He was on his way home from his second successful paynight. His knee was torn open and for almost two years he couldn't so much as run, never mind skip rope. He never picked up the momentum again.

Mike earned hundreds of millions of dollars while Joe worked nightclub doors back in Dublin. Different worlds.

And yet, in so many ways, their lives have shadowed one another. Both have spent time in prison. Both were involved in highly publicised breakups with women. And they've been there for each other through it all.

They've never lived in one another's pockets. The best friends never have to.

Months, maybe a year, will pass without any contact at all. But whenever one is in a dark place, the other is the first on the scene, like the first shaft of sunlight after a storm.

"Joe is my brother, " says Tyson, whose appearance at the launch of his friend's autobiography in London last week drew a crowd worthy of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

Friends don't ever have to honour debts of loyalty, yet he's never forgotten that, while he was sat in a prison cell, awaiting sentencing for the rape of Desiree Washington, Joe sat down and wrote a letter to the judge about the tender man he knew, in the hope of winning him clemency.

"I had my views on the case, " Joe says, "and I didn't think him capable of doing what they said he did. Mike was my friend. I was there for him. But in the same way, he's been there for me."

A few years ago, Joe's longtime girlfriend, model Lisa Murphy, left him for Michael Flatley. He was devastated.

It was a phone call from Mike that pulled him out of his deep funk. "He was in Vegas and the story made the supermarket tabloids over there.

He phoned me up and he said, 'Joe, I'm reading all about your private life in these magazines. Are you okay?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Take some advice from someone who's learned the hard way. Cut it loose, Joe. Let it go.'" And he did. He's always remembered something Mike told him one night in the Catskills, when Joe was missing his family and hankering for home: "You can't think about where you're not."

It's a lesson that has informed the way he's ridden the rapids of life, from his cruelly curtailed boxing career, to the mob attack on the pub he ran in Birmingham, to his own time in prison for his part in a luxury car-ringing scam. You make mistakes.

You stick your big, heavyweight chin out and take the punch.

In the beginning, the two didn't know what to make of each other. They were thrown together by chance. Joe . . . Big Joe, as Mike calls him . . . was in the States with the Ireland amateur team and ran into Floyd Patterson, the former world heavyweight champion who was D'Amato's first protege. Patterson had a special interest in fighters from Ireland, the birthplace of his wife.

"He arranged for me to go to the famous Gleason's Gym in New York, to spar a few decent heavyweight fighters.

I did alright. Then they started telling me there about this man called Cus who lived upstate in the Catskills and who had this up and coming heavyweight. I thought, yeah, I'd spar anyone. I presume he's just got the two hands, like me. He could only do me so much damage."

D'Amato was forever looking for fresh meat for his new monster.

"I'd never hard of Mike Tyson before, " Joe says, "and I dare say he'd never heard of Joe Egan. I could see him looking at me across the table, wondering what to make of me. That's what you do with sparring partners, you size them up, wonder how tough they are, what they're made of.

"Then we got talking about boxing. He was like an encyclopaedia. He knew all about all these Irish fighters, like Rinty Monaghan and Gerry Cooney and Sean Mannion.

Then I mentioned that I knew Barry McGuigan and that was it. Mike idolised him.

When I talked about him, he'd hang on my every word. It was Barry, Barry, Barry.

That's how we bonded."

Yet the friendship meant nothing within the parameters of the ring ropes. Mike had three sparring partners at any one time and Joe and the others worked in tandem shifts to provide him with a live target.

"The first punch he ever caught me with landed on my hipbone and both of my feet left the ground. God knows what would have happened had he connected with my ribs. You just can't explain the power he had when he was younger and the quickness of his hands. You never got to throw any punches yourself. You were always too concerned with not being hit.

"He'd spar six or nine rounds a day, so each of us was in with him for either two or three rounds and we did it on a round-robin basis. You'd sit there dreading your turn coming around. You were looking at some poor guy getting pasted and thinking, 'Oh God, I'm next.' We were all sat there, supposedly hard men, looking sombre, like we were about to face the gallows. Except you knew what to expect when you walked up the steps of the gallows.

You didn't know what kind of pain Mike would inflict on you. There were so many bad things he could do to you in there.

"The worst was if the spar who went before you landed a good shot on him just before the bell went. Then it was your turn and you knew you were going to pay."

He remembers buying 10 Greetings from the Catskills postcards and sending them home to family and friends, writing on them, "I am training along with the future heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson."

And then he remembers countless times when he wished he wasn't.

"There was one day he bashed me up really bad, " he says. "Just smashed me to bits. I was in pure agony. My hands were all swollen up, my jaw was swollen, by ribs were all busted up, my back was killing me and when I put my head on the pillow that night it felt like a brick. I went straight to my bedroom after the session and just cried my heart out. It was just the pain of it.

"So that night I didn't show for dinner and, typical Mike, he came up to the room, full of concern for me, and he finds me there with tears steaming down my face. We're only teenagers remember, we're still not men. So Mike and Tom Patti, another fighter, find me crying. But Mike thinks it's because I'm homesick and he starts consoling me. He says, 'Hey, come on, Big Guy, we're your family now, ' and of course I couldn't tell him I was crying because he'd just smashed me up."

Mike was the special one.

They all knew that. His room was the entire top floor of the D'Amato mansion, where he'd while away hours, straddling an exercise bike, turning the pedals furiously while watching black and white cine film of old fights. "This was how he knew so much about the history of the sport. There was nothing he didn't know about the history of boxing. Every fighter, every fight, every round. He'd freeze frame the film and tell you that if a certain punch had landed it would have changed the course of boxing history. He'd come alive watching those films. Of course, I'd be dozing on his bed."

Mike went into two of his last amateur fights wearing green and white shorts with a shamrock on the front, a gift from his 'brother' . . . the man he called the toughest white man on the planet . . .

who was about to return home to Ireland after two years in the Catskills. Things were happening for him. One day he took Joe into the garage to show him the brand new Rolls Royce Corniche that Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs, his co-managers, had bought him as a gift on signing professional.

Cars and pigeons were Mike's two great loves after boxing. Joe told him that racing pigeons were big business in Ireland but Mike was into tippler pigeons, the endurance racers. "Let's build a loft, " Joe said. So they took a couple of hammers and some lengths of wood and put up a giant, two-storey structure for Mike's new birds, which, Joe was delighted to hear this week, still stands to this day. In front of it, Joe painted a sign that said, 'Tyson's flyers!'

"That was a very precious day, " he says, "because we both knew we were saying goodbye. Our lives were heading in different directions and it was one of the last times we spent together. So I went back home and Mike, as you know, became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, like all of us knew he would, bashing up all these great fighters the way he bashed up me.

"We still talked from time to time on the phone but after Cus died Mike went off the rails. Don King got his hands on him and he started to self-destruct."

When he went on trial, denying charges of raping a beauty queen, Joe wrote to Jay Bright, another of the old Catskills gang, and asked what he could do. "He suggested I put into words how I felt about Mike. Did I think it was in his nature to do something like this? I didn't.

"So I sat down and wrote a character reference . . .

which I posted to the judge . . . about the Mike Tyson I knew. Mike didn't forget that.

"So when he got out of jail and he started fighting again he came to England to fight Julius Francis. I was having a tough time of it.

"I was running a pub in Birmingham called the Lyndhurst, which had, shall we say, a bit of a reputation.

"This gang had attacked the place a few months earlier with baseball bats, machetes, the lot.

"Mike phoned me up and asked me to be his guest of honour at the fight. It was unbelievable seeing him again. But he said to me, 'If you have any more trouble in that pub of yours, give me a call and I'll come down and help you sort it out, ' and the funniest thing of all was that he meant it."

In July, Joe took a flight to Washington, to watch his old friend fight Kevin McBride, sensing somehow that this was a night he shouldn't miss.

If he was the only Irishman in the place screaming his lungs out for 'the other guy' then he was forgiven.

At the end, the beaten man announced that his long career, which started with the delivery of that Rolls Royce Corniche 20 years earlier, was over. At the press conference, he picked out his old friend's face in the crowd.

"Joe Egan, " he said. "You were here for the start and I'm so happy that you're here for the end."

And here they are still. Old friends, still standing.
November 27, 2005

Thursday, 24 November 2005

A giant step in the fight against organised crime

Thursday November 24 2005
The Government's witness security programme was given a massive boost by yesterday's ground-breaking decision by the Supreme Court in the case of gangland boss John Gilligan.

The programme, which is set to become a vital tool in the Garda's fight against organised crime, has been under attack in the lower courts during the Gilligan saga.

But the Supreme Court made it clear yesterday there was no reason in law why the State could not establish a programme as long as the terms for participation were properly laid down.

A review of the programme had already been carried out on the directions of Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy to ensure that aspects that were criticised and highlighted by the Special Criminal Court were overhauled and rectified.

Two of the shortcomings that emerged during the Gilligan trial were the failure of the gardai to record meetings with the three protected witnesses used in that investigation, Charles Bowden, Russell Warren and John Dunne, and the decision of the Gardai to return monies that had earlier been seized from Bowden and Warren.

The monies were later held by the Special Criminal Court to be the proceeds of crime.

Measures are now being implemented to ensure those errors cannot be repeated and officers are satisfied that they would not have taken place in the Gilligan case except that the programme was in an embryonic phase and had not fully settled before being implemented in one of the most important criminal investigations in recent years.

The evidence subsequently given by the three protected witnesses provided a vital plank in the prosecution case against Gilligan and the programme again proved its worth in an inquiry into a murder in Clondalkin in south west Dublin.

The most notorious protected witness to emerge in an Irish courtroom to date has been David Rupert whose evidence ensured that the leader of the Real IRA, Michael McKevitt could finally be put behind bars, although Rupert's participation was different in that the British and US authorities were also involved in signing him up as a star witness.

Potential witnesses must be carefully evaluated by a team of experts which includes the DPP and the assistant garda commissioner in charge of crime and security before they can be admitted under the programme.

At the moment one likely participant, hitman James Martin Cahill, is languishing in jail after being convicted of the murder of Limerick nightclub guard, Brian Fitzgerald.

But his knowledge of the inner workings of the Limerick gang scene could ultimately provide the weapon to jail many of the key players there.

In the current investigations into the Dublin gangland feud detectives attempted to bring one leading participant into the programme but so far he has resisted the temptation.

But if the death toll increases the man, who has already narrowly escaped a murder attempt, may change his mind.

The witness protection programme is now officially here to stay and it will ultimately be shown again to be a crucial part of the garda's armoury in overcoming the gun gangs.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Murder victim lured to death over drug debt

Wednesday November 23 2005
GARDAI investigating the murder of a small-time criminal in the Wicklow Gap earlier this month believe he was killed because of a drug debt.

Owen McCarthy (27) had been dealing in cocaine in Clondalkin in south west Dublin.

Detectives believe he ran into financial difficulties after losing a haul of drugs worth around €30,000. They are working on the theory that the murder was carried out on the orders of another trafficker he had known for several years.

McCarthy, from Ashwood Park, Clondalkin, was lured to the Wicklow Gap by former associates who told him they intended to retrieve a drugs haul which had been stashed there. A series of searches in the area since the murder have been carried out by gardai but have failed to unearth the haul. "We have not yet positively identified the killer but we are satisfied the victim went to the Wicklow Gap under false pretences and knew nothing about his death sentence until he was hit," one senior officer disclosed last night.

Forensic tests have shown McCarthy's killer fired two blasts from a weapon is rarely used by crime gangs.

The weapon is known as a woman's shotgun because it is almost two pounds lighter, than the more popular version, has less recoil and fires a smaller cartridge.

McCarthy had broken his leg earlier this year after falling from a roof. While in hospital he caught the MRSA superbug. A shotgun cartridge recovered from the scene has been examined by garda forensic experts and It is believed it may have been smuggled in here as "sweetener" with a drugs shipment.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Dublin now a more lawless gangland city than Los Angeles

Sunday Tribune

John Burke, Eoghan Rice and Stephen Collins
GANGLAND assassins operating in Ireland are five times more likely to escape detection than their hitman counterparts in the notorious gang-ridden US city of Los Angeles.

New figures reveal that organised criminals who carry out murders here have a risk of capture of less than 20%.

This compares dramatically with the successful prosecution and jailing of over 94% of hitmen who carry out similar murders in LA.

Department of Justice figures show that over 80% of all gangland murders involving the use of firearms here remain unsolved.

The new data is based on an analysis of the 66 murders involving firearms that were carried out here over a sixyear period from 1998.

However, less than 6% of gang-related assassinations carried out in LA remain unsolved.

Last Sunday's double slaying of criminals Gavin Byrne and Darren Geoghegan in Firhouse, and the retaliatory murder of drug dealer Noel Roche (27) last Tuesday in Clontarf, brings to 18 the number of gangland-style assassinations in 2005. This represents a 300% increase on the number of similar killings in the same period last year.

Much of the high conviction rate in relation to gangland murders in Los Angeles is attributed to the use of witness protection programmes which allow criminals to indict other senior gang members in exchange for protection, according to the Los Angeles county District Attorney's 2004 annual report.

It is expected that the special garda taskforce set up last week by garda commissioner Noel Conroy will target Dublin criminals and offer them an opportunity to give sworn evidence against associates under an expansion of a similar protection scheme here. New proposals to combat gun crime will be brought to cabinet on Tuesday, justice minister Michael McDowell told the Sunday Tribune yesterday.

These will include the introduction of mandatory jail sentences of between five to 10 years for possession of illegal firearms while the possession of a sawn-off shotgun would in future be a special offence.
November 20, 2005

Victim of 'mad dogs' gang speaks of two-year ordeal

Sunday Tribune

Pauline Costello was in constant fear of all-girl gang while waiting for assault case to come to trial
Isabel Hayes
ONE of the victims of a Dublin girl gang whose members were each sentenced to two years' imprisonment last week has spoken of how she has spent the last two years looking over her shoulder while waiting for their case to come to court.

"It's just been awful, " said Pauline Costello (20) from Firhouse, Dublin, who was attacked by a group of six women on her 18th birthday. "I wish it could have come to court quicker because it's been a long two years waiting for it to come to an end."

Martina O'Connor (18) and Antoinette Geoghegan (18) were jailed for two years for assaulting and robbing Costello on 10 October, 2003, and for causing harm to Rhona Brady on 17 October, 2003, along with Jennifer Melia (26). Labelled "mad dogs" by Judge Donagh McDonagh, Costello's main attacker, O'Connor, has notched up 72 convictions in the last two years.

On the night of her 18th birthday, Costello was at a bus stop in Kilnamanagh with a friend when she was approached by O'Connor, Geoghegan and four other girls. After asking for a cigarette lighter, O'Connor told Costello she smelt like a "whore" and "would get pregnant dressed like that".

"They started shouting abuse and then chased after us, " said Costello, who was caught by her attackers and pulled to the ground. "They poured beer over me and took my bag. I went home in a state."

Costello later identified O'Connor and pressed charges against her attacker, but that has led to further trouble for her. "She saw me at a bus stop and wanted to know why I was pressing charges, " said Costello. "When I told her to leave me alone, she tried to punch me."

Earlier this year, Costello bumped into O'Connor and her friends again and sustained a burst lip and black eye. O'Connor also found out where Costello worked and started coming in looking for her. "She would ask what time I was getting off work at and warn my friends she was going to get me, " recalled Costello.

"It's been a nightmare and I'm just glad she's been put away. I'm a bit disappointed she only got two years, but I'm getting on with my life and I hope she'll leave me alone when she gets out."

Even now, Costello is still on the constant lookout for O'Connor's group of friends.

"She was never on her own when she attacked me, they are always in a group, " she said. "She probably wouldn't do it if she was on her own."

Criminal gangs of women are becoming increasingly widespread in Ireland. Last month there were a spate of robberies in the Wicklow/Kildare area that gardai believed were carried out by a group of women. Three women were questioned but later released without charge.

In 2002, a woman was attacked in Clonsilla, Dublin, by a gang of teenage girls, one of whom broke a glass bottle over her head. The victim and her partner were driven out of their home due to constant harassment by the group.

Last year, Dr Chris Luke of Cork University Hospital's accident and emergency unit claimed that gardai were becoming more afraid of gangs of violent women than men.

The hospital was dealing with a big increase in victims of female violence and "unrestrained hedonism, " he said.

"There has been a massive surge in female drunkenness, " he said, estimating the increase at 60% in recent years.

Costello now takes taxis late at night and is cautious when approached by strangers.

Despite the constant harassment at the hands of O'Connor and her group, she is glad she pressed charges.

"A lot of people have suffered at the hands of them and not done anything about it, " she said. "But I thought, no.

These people are bad news and they have been wrecking other people's lives. Something had to be done because they just don't care."
November 20, 2005


Sunday Tribune

John Roche (24) was shot dead on 9 March in Kilmainham in the "rst gangland killing of the year.

He had been involved in the four-year feud that reemerged last week and left three further men dead, including Roche's older brother Noel.

42-year-old Dubliner Jimmy Curran was shot dead on 3 April as he sat drinking in the Green Lizard pub in Dublin city centre. He was not a criminal. A man has since been charged in relation to his killing.

Joseph Rafferty was murdered on 12 April outside his home at Ongar in west Dublin.

Rafferty's family have made public their belief that he was targeted by a Provisional IRAlinked criminal. Sinn Fein deny this. Rafferty was not connected to criminal activity.

Terry Dunleavy (27, BELOW LEFT) was shot dead on 14 April outside his girlfriend's home near Croke Park, reportedly due to a 40,000 debt owed to one of the gang-leaders involved in the four-year feud that saw John Roche and three others killed this year so far.

Traveller Hughie McGinley (26) was shot dead on 28 April as he drove his van through Sligo town with his partner and young child. The killing is related to a feud between two different gangs in the western town that has seen several shootings and attempted killings.

Andrew 'Madser' Glennon (30) was assassinated on 30 April in Clonee, Co Meath.

His brother Mark, a major dealer in cocaine, was also killed "ve months later in the same feud between rival drug gangs in the western suburbs of Dublin.

Mark Byrne (31) from Tallaght was on day release from Mountjoy prison on 5 May when he was stopped on the street across from the Mater Hospital by a gunman and shot dead. He had previously been involved in a row with another prisoner in Mountjoy.

Martin Kenny (22) was in his girlfriend's home in Ballyfermot on the evening of 14 May when a gunman broke in and shot him dead. He was known to gardai but was not a major player.

Tony Creed (36) was shot dead in his own bedroom in his Clondalkin home on 27 May. The killing is believed to relate to a dispute which the dead man was having with some local men at the time.

He was involved in selling drugs but was not a major dealer.

Vincent O'Brien (53) was shot dead at his home in Bray on 10 August. A small-time drug dealer, the killing was believed to be connected to a long-running row with another criminal.

Eric Cummins (31) was shot dead outside his home in Ballincollig in Cork on 13 August. He was linked to drugs gangs in Limerick and was also heavily involved in the illicit drugs trade in Cork.

Andrew Dillon (29) was shot dead and his body dumped at a remote boreen outside Ashbourne, Co Meath on 18 August. He was involved in drug-related criminal activity but was not a major "gure.

Mark Glennon (32) was shot dead on 7 September outside his Blanchardstown home. A brother of Andrew 'Madser' Glennon, he was a former member of the notorious Westies gang.

David Nunan (25) was shot in the back and dumped outside Parteen in Co Clare on 28 October. He was involved in crime in Limerick and was recently released from prison.

Owen McCarthy (27) was shot dead and his body dumped at Annalecka bridge near Hollywood in Wicklow on 4 November. A minor criminal from Clondalkin, he had been targeted by a Dublin gang previously.

Gavin Byrne and Darren Geoghegan were gunned down after being lured to a meeting on Dublin's southside with criminals last Sunday, 13 November. The two are believed to have been killed in retaliation for John Roche's murder in March. It was the "rst double gangland murder in several years.

Drug dealer Noel Roche (27), younger brother of John Roche, was shot dead last Tuesday, 15 November, when a car in which he was a passenger came under "re as it drove through Clontarf. His is the latest gangland killing of the bloody fouryear feud.
November 20, 2005

Friday, 18 November 2005

Gang feud driver is quizzed as gardai find the killer's gun

By Tom BradySecurity Editor

Friday November 18 2005
THE driver of the car ambushed by gunmen in Dublin on Tuesday night was being questioned by gardai last night about withholding information on a serious crime.

Gardai have also recovered the murder weapon used in the ambush.

The 32-year-old suspect, who is from Drimnagh, fled the scene after his passenger, Noel Roche (27), was shot in the head.

Noel Roche's younger brother John (25) was killed in Kilmainham last March.

The driver abandoned his Mondeo car in the middle of Clontarf Road and attempted to gain entry to a nearby house to escape.

A garda hunt in the area failed to locate him, although detectives found several bloodstains on the doorstep of the house.

But yesterday, the man contacted his solicitors in Dublin city centre and a meeting was arranged with detectives investigating the murder of the seventh victim of the bloody ongoing feud between gangs in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area.

Gardai interviewed the man for some time but later decided to arrest him under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

He was taken to Raheny garda station, where he was being questioned last night about allegedly holding back information about the shooting and the feud.

The man can be held for a maximum of 72 hours in custody without charge.

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that a handgun, believed to have been used to shoot Mr Roche, was hidden in the glove compartment of the killers' abandoned getaway car.

The car, a beige Peugeot 307, had been stolen in Blessington, Co Wicklow, five weeks ago, and was hurriedly abandoned by the killers in Furry Park, Killester, a short distance from the murder scene.

Gardai found the handgun, balaclavas and other clothing in the car and are hopeful that forensic tests will yield vital fingerprint and DNA evidence to help identify the killers.

Officers think the tests on the car and its contents could lead to a crucial breakthrough in their inquiries into the killing.

The murder of Mr Roche and the attempted shooting of the car driver was intended to have been reprisal killings for the fatal gun attack on Darren Geoghegan, of Lissadell Drive, Drimnagh, and Gavin Byrne, from Windmill Park, Crumlin, in Firhouse on Sunday night last.

After that incident, the killers set their BMW getaway car on fire. The blaze badly damaged two handguns which had been left behind in the vehicle.

Gardai said their decision to throw away the murder weapons indicated that the gangs were heavily armed and had a haul of extra guns in reserve.

- Tom BradySecurity Editor

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Drugs baron planned to flood nation with cocaine

By Eugene Hoganand Conor Sweeney

Thursday November 17 2005
THE 'grand plan' of the Mid-West-based drugs cartel supplied by Jim 'Chaser' O'Brien was to distribute drugs throughout Ireland.

The Irish Independent has learned that O'Brien's drugs cartel was preparing to flood the market with cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and heroin as a result of the huge supply chain he had tapped into in South America, North Africa and Afghanistan.


Senior Garda sources last night said that in the last three years the Mid-West cartel had developed a huge network of distributors throughout Ireland and was already dominating the supply into the West and down the seaboard into Cork and Waterford.

It is understood that the cartel hierarchy had also developed links with drug gangs in the North, on both the loyalist and republican side of the divide.

"The reality is that this gang, in business terms, had its own grand plan. It wanted to be the sole supplier outside of Dublin that would cater for the rest of Ireland and it had made significant inroads in that regard," said a well-placed garda source.

O'Brien was central to that grand plan but the cartel also has another of its key figures doing its bidding in Spain, working out of the coastal resort of Malaga. He is a Limerick man in his late 30s and was described last night as another vital link in the chain.

Meanwhile, O'Brien (41), who has charges for a minor drug offence here, could face a lengthy remand in a Belgian prison as the case against him is prepared, it emerged last night.

He is currently being held in an Antwerp jail after his arrest three weeks ago. Since his arrest, he has been formally charged in connection with drug dealing, confirmed the spokeswoman for the Antwerp city public prosecutor, Dominique Reynders.

"I can confirm there is an ongoing investigation of Mr O' Brien, who is also called the 'Chaser'. He has been arrested and is being kept in detention in an Antwerp city prison," she said.

She confirmed that his arrest followed international co-operation involving the authorities in Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands.

At this early stage in the investigation, it was impossible to know whether the final case would involve serious charges or not, she said.


O'Brien will appear before a court tribunal at the end of this month, when a further remand may be considered.

"He can be kept in detention for a long period and he can be brought before the tribunal every month," the spokeswoman said, adding: "I hope there will be developments."

Belgian authorities are remaining tight-lipped about the investigation because of the ongoing nature of the international probe.

- Eugene Hoganand Conor Sweeney

Territorial battle is now being waged down the barrel of a gun

Thursday November 17 2005
SOME Dublin gangs consist of just a handful of people - but they are ruthless when it comes to controlling what they perceive to be 'their' territory.

Several have split or been torn apart in recent years and some of the criminals are regarded as having no allegiance.

The most high-profile gangs at the moment are the two factions involved in the Crumlin feud. Originally belonging to the same gang, a dispute began when three members were found in possession of drugs in a Dublin hotel - the members blamed each other for tipping off the Gardai and they split into two gangs.

One side, which consists of six men, is led by a jailed gangland thug who is serving a sentence for guns charges and having drugspossession of drugs and firearms charges.

The other side is lead by a criminal who was released from prison last year.

Their first victim of the feud was Declan Gavin (20) who was stabbed in 2001 but the number of deaths believed to be directly linked to the feud has now risen to seven.

The 'New Westies' gang - which is based in Blanchardstown - has also seen a number of murders within its ranks.

The gang's enforcer, Andrew 'Madser' Glennon (30), was murdered in April while his brother Mark was shot dead in September.

They were seen as the 'new kids on the block' who were destined to take control of the lucrative drugs trade in the area from the Westies gang. However, they soon began arguing among themselves over drugs and money.

Police intelligence indicates that the original leaders of the Westies - Stephen Sugg and Shane Coates - were killed in Alicante by a Russian mob.

There are now believed to be around 10 dangerous armed drug-dealers in the gang.

It was in this area of Dublin in which Operation Anvil was mainly concentrated when it began in May this year.

Meanwhile the Lusk post office robbers were part of a criminal gang responsible for a spate of armed robberies and drug trafficking in ravaged areas of Dublin.

Two men, Colm 'Collie' Griffin (33) and Eric Hopkins (24), were shot dead by gardai as they attempted to rob the post office in February of this year. Four arrests were made.

Finglas has seen its fair share of gangland trouble but one of the prominent gangs was weakened following the death of the feared gangland boss Declan Curran and the imprisonment of co-leader John Daly for armed robbery.

The gang are heavily involved in armed robberies and drug dealing and are friendly with the Tank Brothers, who are neighbours.

Further north in Coolock, the 'Fats' gang is led by two criminals who are well known to gardai. Although not a lot has been written about them they control most of the drugs trade on the Northside. Twenty men were killed in gang-related shootings in 2003, eight died in 2004 and so far this year 18 have been killed.

Meanwhile in Tallaght, a gang uses the republican flag to carry out drug deals and protection rackets. Linked with the INLA they supply some pubs in the inner city with bouncers and many are invovled in drug dealing as a lucrative sideline.

While many of these gangs and their members have been up and coming in the crime world over recent years, 'The Veterans' in the South-inner city have been around for many years. Mainly in their late 40s and early 50s, they come together every few years to pull off well-planned heists. They are suspected of being behind some raids on security vans earlier this year.

Twenty men were killed in gang-related shootings in 2003, 8 died in 2004 and so far this year 18 have been killed.

Third Dublin gangland murder in three days

Angelique Chrisafis
The Guardian, Thursday 17 November 2005
Dublin police were yesterday investigating the third gangland murder in the city in three days.
On Tuesday night a 27-year-old man was shot dead in Clontarf, north Dublin. He was a passenger in a car when gunmen, who may have pulled up alongside on a motorbike, shot him three times in the head. The victim was apparently involved in a gang feud.
On Sunday night, two men wearing bulletproof vests were shot dead as they sat in a Lexus sedan in a south-west Dublin cul-de-sac. The attack was believed to be linked to a five-year turf war between rival drug gangs.

Saturday, 5 November 2005

Gardai probe gang feud as man's body found dumped in mountains

By Tom BradySecurity Editor

Saturday November 05 2005
A MAN who was shot twice in the Wicklow mountains early yesterday may have been the latest victim of a bloody feud among drugs gangs.

The victim, who was on crutches, is believed to have been lured to his death by somebody he trusted and his body was then dumped on the edge of forestry at the Wicklow Gap.

Gardai were last night working on the theory that the man, who was in his 20s, was taken by car to Annalecka bridge between Glendalough and Hollywood. He was shot in the back as he hobbled out of the car with one leg in plaster, and as he lay on the ground he was shot in the eye.

A post-mortem examination on the body was being finalised late last night by State Pathologist Marie Cassidy at Naas hospital.

Gardai were also trying to confirm the victim's identity. Detectives think he may be a man reported missing by his family yesterday afternoon. The missing man is from west Dublin and has associates in a gang which has been involved in a lengthy feud with another gang.

One officer said: "This was a particularly vicious murder and it was carried out ruthlessly. It seems to have been done in the style of an execution and no attempt was made to conceal the body."

The body was left at the entrance to a track leading into the forestry and could be seen from the road.


It was spotted by a passer-by at around 7.40am and gardai were satisfied the man had been killed in the previous couple of hours, probably at the scene.

A handgun is believed to have been used, although gardai are awaiting the outcome of the post-mortem examination to confirm this. The victim was dressed in a blue tracksuit and one runner when he was found.

Anyone who drove along the road from Hollywood to Glendalough between 6am and 8am is asked to contact gardai on (045) 865582.

- Tom BradySecurity Editor

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Rise and rise of Dublin's vicious drug lords

Dark side of Ireland's economic boom is the growth of high-octane gangsterism
Angelique Chrisafis in Dublin
The Guardian, Thursday 20 October 2005
Mark Glennon knew what was coming. He slept in a bullet-proof vest and his west Dublin council house was a fortress of bullet-proof glass, CCTV cameras and reinforced doors. To maintain his edge, and his trigger finger, he fuelled himself with cocaine.
But last month Glennon, 32, became the latest in a long line of drug dealers with reputations for extreme violence to be shot dead in Ireland's gangland wars. He was gunned down in broad daylight outside his home in Blanchardstown, Ireland's silicon valley, an area of conspicuous wealth.
Nearly 10 years after the crime reporter Veronica Guerin was shot dead for pursuing Dublin's drug barons, Ireland's criminal gangs are more dangerous and unpredictable than ever, according to residents on their estates. They are heavily armed with automatic weapons from eastern Europe. They are high on their own cocaine supply and turning over ever-increasing profits from drugs and spectacular armed robberies - some making in six months what the godfathers of Guerin's time made in two years.
Thirteen men have been shot dead in gangland-style killings this year, 11 in Dublin alone. Politicians say people are so inured to the turf wars that it now merits little attention when the bullet-riddled corpse of a drug dealer is discovered.
The government, which had prematurely declared last year that the fight against gangs was nearly won, is now cracking down, and police are seizing weapons - 500 this year - from sawn-off shotguns to M16 rifles and armour-piercing bullets. Amid the clamour for police to be seen to be addressing Ireland's armed robberies, two post office raiders, one an armed drug dealer and another unarmed man, were gunned down by undercover police in an ambush in May.
Amnesty International is demanding an independent inquiry and the men's families are planning a case for the European court of human rights alleging excessive force. Politicians and commentators are warning of the dangers of civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
The new generation of Irish druglords, known as the "mini-godfathers" or the "Celtic tiger cubs", are not the character criminals of the desperate days of 1980s Ireland, men like "the general", Martin Cahill. Unlike the abstemious Cahill, who carried out one of the world's biggest art heists, the new breed are described by those who live among them as "cocaine androids", whose personalities seem to have been formed by the drug they use and peddle.
Their lives are fast and short, their violence is said to be almost psychopathic. Some who lost kidneys in shoot-outs continued to wage war on their rivals unworried by their colostomy bags, pumping themselves with steroids to compensate for ill health.
Ireland has the third highest cocaine use in Europe. Seizures of the drug have gone up 800% in the last five years. "People get shot and we don't even hear about it. It just becomes commonplace - drug-related and part of a feud," said one community worker on Blanchardstown's sprawling estates, driving past landmarks of recent feuding. There are flowers at a tree where a young man bled to death after he was shot in the legs. At a parade of shops, another group of men were lined up and shot for stepping out of line. The local hospital is becoming expert at gunshot wounds - admissions have gone up fourfold in four years.
If this sounds ominously like Belfast, but in a wealthier setting, it is because the new gangsters have begun to ape paramilitary methods of intimidating their own communities. Joan Burton, Labour MP for Blanchardstown, said: "Dublin is seeing a mixture of guns and paramilitary culture."
Some gangsters even claim to be in the IRA - boasts sometimes not without credibility as the IRA has long "licensed" criminals in Dublin, taking a cut of the action in return for protection. "There is a quasi-social and political control associated with thuggery and crime," Ms Burton added. "There is harassment and intimidation across the estates."
There is a hard core of 15 to 30 gangs, and some are branching out into multimillion euro cash-in-transit robberies. Irish people, once among the poorest in Europe, are now second richest in the world, according to the United Nations; with so much money sloshing around, it seemed inevitable that an high-octane criminal culture would develop. But although the tiger brought jobs, Ireland now has one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world.
Not far from where Mark Glennon was shot is the council house that once belonged to John Gilligan, head of the gang responsible for shooting Guerin in 1996. He was acquitted of ordering her murder, but is serving a 20-year term after being convicted of running the biggest drugs empire Ireland had known.
Glennon and his brother Andrew, known as "Madster", were the second wave of drug dealers on the local patch. Once part of the notorious "Westies" gang, which dominated the area by torturing its rivals, the Glennons broke off and challenged their former bosses. They were suspects in the 2003 murder of a leading "Westie". But the Glennons did not last long. Andrew was killed five months before his brother, in April, when a rival gang surrounded his car and riddled him with bullets. But the Glennons had associates prepared to avenge them, and locals fear the feud is not over.
Blanchardstown is in no way unique. Drug gang wars have spread across the city - and into Europe. Last month a Cork drug smuggler's corpse was found in the freezer of an apartment in the Algarve in Portugal. Michael "Danzer" Ahern's head was said to have been severed as proof of his death.
Last year the "Westies" leaders, Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg, went missing from a villa near Alicante in Spain. They are presumed dead, perhaps killed in a row over drug importation.
But on their old turf some residents fear that they staged their own disappearance and could return. "Their families haven't seemed to be in mourning," said one local man. Others feel that, like Mark Glennon, they would be unable to stay away, whatever the risk.