Sunday October 29 2006
JIM CUSACK and
THE leader of Ireland's biggest heroin trafficking gang, which has been involved in a bloody feud that cost nine lives in the past five years, was arrested in Holland yesterday.
Heroin and weapons were seized by Dutch police when they arrested the 25-year-old Dublin criminal, a woman and two others in the Dutch port of Rotterdam yesterday morning.
The police were acting on a tip-off from detectives at Kilmainham Garda Station in Dublin, and the sting is directly linked to the massive €11m heroin cache seized by gardai last week.
The man is believed to have fled Ireland with his girlfriend after gardai netted the single biggest drugs seizure in Dublin last Tuesday.
The gang leader, from south Dublin, heads one of the most ruthless criminal organisations in the capital.
"We can confirm that an arrest has taken place in Holland, as a follow-on from investigations based at Kilmainham Garda Station into the recent seizure of heroin in Dublin," said Det Supt PJ Browne who is in charge of the operation.
The criminal who comes originally from Loreto Road in the south-inner city has risen to prominence in recent years, having started in the drugs trade in his mid-teens.
He has been spending more time in Holland since the last deadly outbreak of feuding between his gang and their former associates at the end of last year.
He has escaped several attempts on his life.
Gardai are particularly concerned that both gangs have been buying more deadly weapons, as there is no sign of the feuding coming to an end.
About 53kg of heroin and 25kg of cannabis were discovered in the Aras na Cluana apartment complex in Clondalkin last week. Gardai also found a Heckler and Koch sub-machine gun which the gang had imported with the drugs.
A 22-year-old man who was renting the apartment since May turned himself over to gardai since the seizure. He is being questioned this weekend.
Sources said the Crumlin gangster's girlfriend also rented an apartment in the same complex.
"The scale of the find is worrying evidence of the increased demand for heroin in Ireland. And gardai in provincial cities such as Galway, Cork and Waterford are reporting a rise in heroin usage," said Cormac Gordon, Chief Superintendent of the National Drugs Unit.
The trend is borne out by the latest crime figures, compiled by the Central Statistics Office, which show that drug dealing offences were up more than 25 per cent, while manufacturing and importing drugs has almost doubled.
The gang behind last week's heroin seizure in Dublin is believed to owe its European suppliers over €1m, and may face execution if they fail to meet their debt.
Gardai believe their Dutch suppliers may have links to the Russian mafia.
The Dublin gang, which has been involved in a bloody feud for the past five years with another south-city-based gang, is also searching for people to blame for the seizure.
Senior gardai described it as "basic, good detective work" by a number of young gardai from Pearse Street Station in Dublin, who were on surveillance duty as part of Operation Anvil in the city last week.
Garda sources said they had already had indications that the gang behind the Clondalkin heroin haul had begun to panic about their failure to meet their debts to their ruthless suppliers.
"We anticipate there will be trouble over this," one senior sources said.
After gardai from Pearse Street raided a cocaine mixing operation in a hotel room in the city centre in 2001, which led to further seizures, the gang split up in an acrimonious row, with members blaming each other for the seizures.
The gang split in two and began fighting.
The first murder in the feud was that of Declan Gavin who was stabbed to death in August 2001.
In a series of tit-for-tat murders since - culminating in three murders within a week last November - more than nine people have been killed and others have narrowly escaped death in dozens of shootings.
The discovery of the Heckler and Koch gun, one of the most powerful weapons of its kind, is an indication that the heroin gang was preparing for even more deadly feuding in the future.
The only other group ever to have imported a weapon of this kind - which is normally used by special forces including the Army Ranger Wing - was the IRA.