THE two gangs that are the main focus of Garda attention this weekend have had major success robbing banks. In particular, the Finglas-based gang, run by two brothers, has been prolific over the past 12 months.
Before last week's robbery, the biggest of the recent heists was a 1m raid on a cash-in-transit van delivering to an ATM at Bettystown in Meath last July.
A month before, three raiders made off with 80,000 from a Securicor van delivering to an ATM at Marian Park in Drogheda.
The same gang are the chief suspects in the 200,000 robbery of an ATM delivery in Swords, Co Dublin, last May, while another Securicor van was hit for 217,000 when delivering to the Supervalu at Palmerstown shopping centre in west Dublin last March.
In total, a small core of no more than two or three organised crime gangs have carried out over 50 robberies of cash-in-transit vehicles since the start of 2004, mostly in the greater Dublin area.
The trend points to one stark fact: gangs such as John Gilligan's, Martin Cahill's and the notorious Dunne outfit (who showed Cahill the robbery ropes) all started out robbing banks and later used much of this cash to buy into the drugs market.
It took over a decade for special garda units such as the criminal assets bureau (CAB) and the national drugs unit (GNDU) to force these gangs out of business. Some senior gardai believe that the re-emergence of such a trend . . . thieves working to fund large drugs enterprises . . . is a warning sign that a small core of criminal gangs has begun to approach a level of power not seen since the mid to late 1990s.
March 20, 2005