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