Thursday, 26 October 2006

Gardai close in on drugs gang

By Tom Brady

Thursday October 26 2006
GARDAI expect to make an early arrest in connection with the record haul of heroin found in a Dublin apartment complex.

Detailed checks yesterday established that the drugs haul consisted of 54 kilos of heroin, with a street value of €10.8m, and 40 kilos of herbal cannabis, worth €80,000.

A search for two men, who jumped 25 feet from a second-floor apartment to evade arrest, was extended throughout the city and surrounding counties last night.

Senior garda officers believe they have identified one of the men as a 22-year-old drug dealer from Ballyfermot.

He is regarded as a minor "player", who is part of one of the biggest drug trafficking gangs in west Dublin.

Detectives suspect that members of this gang combined with criminals associated with one of the feuding gangs in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area to organise the heroin shipment.

They believe one of the masterminds is leader of a mob involved in a bitter row with rivals over the past five years.

The row arose over the garda seizure of a drugs haul from a hotel in Pearse Street in the centre of the city in 2001 and the recriminations resulted in eight deaths in tit-for-tat killings, including three murders late last year.

Gardai fear there could be further recriminations as a result of the latest find as the organisers try to find out who was responsible for tipping off the gardai about the apartment haul.

The garda raid on Tuesday night was carried out by unarmed members of the crime task force in the south central division and the drug haul they recovered was "beyond their wildest dreams".

Officers said last night that task force members had not waited for armed back-up as they had not anticipated the extent of the shipment hidden in the apartment in the Ard na Cluaine complex at Yellow Meadows, off Nangor Road, in Clondalkin.

As gardai closed in on the second floor apartment, two men inside fled and jumped to safety. Last night detectives were working on the identity of the secondsuspect.

Garda technical experts carried out a minute examination of the haul and the apartment to find clues to the identity of others involved with the shipment.

The heroin was found in the apartment while the cannabis was hidden in one of three vehicles seized by the gardai.

Also recovered was a Heckler and Koch machine gun, a silencer, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a .38 Smith and Wesson specials and magazines for Lugers and Glock machine pistols.

A couple of hundred euro in cash was also found along with a mixing agent and weighing scales, as the heroin was being prepared for distribution on the streets of west and south Dublin.

The heroin haul is the biggest so far in the State and is worth more on the streets than the combined seizures in 2003, 2004 and last year.

The find was made as part of Operation Anvil, an anti-crime initiative which has been extended nationwide.

Detectives from several national units have joined the investigation in an effort to find and charge those responsible for importing the drugs into the country.

- Tom Brady

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