Saturday, 15 December 2007

Three held after €3.2m heroin haul

Three held after €3.2m heroin haul

By Tom Brady and Elaine Keogh

Saturday December 15 2007

Three men were in custody last night after an international police operation led to the seizure of a €3.2m shipment of heroin destined for the southside of Dublin.

The haul of heroin was shipped into Belfast from the Netherlands and was brought across the border by a gang based in Dublin and Kildare.

But as a result of an intelligence-gathering operation involving members of An Garda Siochana, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Dutch police, the heroin was seized and three men detained.

The haul was found in a Kildare-registered Nissan Patrol jeep, which was stopped by members of the garda national drugs unit at Collon, Co Louth shortly after 2pm yesterday.

The driver of the jeep, a 27-year-old man from Carbury, Co Kildare, was arrested by detectives.

Gardai also stopped an English-registered jeep on the southern side of Dundalk on the M1 and arrested a 45-year-old man from Templeogue, Dublin.

Both suspects were taken to Navan garda station for questioning under drug trafficking legislation. They can be detained without charge for a maximum of seven days.

A third suspect was detained by the PSNI on the northern side of the border.

The drugs were wrapped in 32 half-kilo bales and had an estimated street value of €3.2m.

The garda national drugs unit was backed-up by members of the national surveillance unit and the criminal intelligence section in an operation co-ordinated by the crime and security branch.


It followed a detailed international investigation involving An Garda Siochana working closely with the other police forces.

Senior garda officers are satisfied that the heroin was being brought southwards for distribution to criminal gangs in the Crumlin area of south Dublin.

They believe the intended distributors are members of a gang involved in the deadly Crumlin-Drimnagh feud.

This gang is led by a notorious gangster recently released from prison.

Gardai described the haul last night as a big success for international co-operation and said the seizure delivered a big financial blow to the Crumlin gangs.

A total of three vehicles were also seized in the cross-border swoops.

The heroin haul was taken last night to the forensic science laboratory for detailed examination, while further inquiries were being conducted to confirm the route used by the traffickers to bring the shipment into this country.

Meanwhile, gardai from the district drug unit in Bray seized 7,000 ecstasy tablets, with an estimated street value of €70,000, after a search of a house at Kilgarron Park in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

A woman was detained at the house and taken to Bray garda station for questioning.

- Tom Brady and Elaine Keogh

Monday, 19 November 2007

Drug boss is among duo arrested in Baiba murder

Drug boss is among duo arrested in Baiba murder

Monday November 19 2007
A KILDARE-based drug boss has been arrested by gardai investigating the murder of Baiba Saulite. The 37-year-old was detained by detectives from Coolock at his home in Kildare early today. Officers arrested another man at the same time in a dawn raid on a house in Clonshaugh. This man was a member of the
gang formerly led by Marlo Hyland.

Both men were arrested on the first anniversary of the young mother’s murder. She was gunned down on the doorstep of her Swords’ home. Gardai suspect that a man known to her arranged for her murder.

The men arrested today weretaken to Malahide and Coolock garda stations where they are being detained under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

They are expected to be detained overnight while detectives put a number of matters to them in interviews. Neither man is a suspect for the murder. Sources told the Evening Herald that both men may have known details of the murder after it happened, and they are being questioned in relation to withholding this information.

Both men have been informally spoken to by gardai previously in relation to the murder, and both have denied any involvement in the killing.

The Kildare man is a known drug supplier who has links to a number of Dublin-based gangs, including members of the former Marlo Hyland gang, drug suppliers in Tallaght and Clondalkin, and gangs in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area.

Gardai suspect him of involvement in citywide drug dealing over the past ten years, but he has no convictions for serious

The second man, in his early 40s, was arrested by gardai at an address in the Clonshaugh this morning. He was a minor
associate of former gang boss Marlo Hyland, but is not viewed as being as senior as the Kildare man in underworld circles.

Like the Kildare man he is also being questioned on suspicion of withholding information in relation to the death of Baiba. The arrests were made as part of an ongoing garda investigation into the murder, carried out by officers from Santry, Coolock and Swords.

A decision on whether to prosecute the chief suspect for the murder of the Latvian mum is unlikely to be taken until the New Year, as a number of garda investigations are still to be completed.

The file on the killing of the mother of two at her home in Swords a year ago, will not be complete for another two months, as officers continue with a number of investigations. The chief suspect in the case, is currently serving a prison sentence.

Swords gardai have now reiterated their appeal on the killing, asking for anyone who was in the area of the shooting at Holywell at the time to contact them at (01) 666-4700 or members of the public can contact the Garda Confidential Phoneline on 1800 666111..

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Three held as African drug route smashed

Three held as African drug route smashed

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Saturday November 17 2007

THREE suspects were in custody last night after officials smashed a drugs trafficking route organised by a west African gang.

After an intelligence-gathering operation, Customs officers stopped a 28-year-old Scottish woman, they believed to be a courier, as she arrived at Dublin airport from South Africa, via Frankfurt in Germany.

After a search, they recovered 20kg of herbal cannabis, with a street value of €200,000, from the woman's suitcase.

Detectives from the national drugs unit searched a number of houses in Blanchardstown and found 4kg of cocaine and mixing agent as well as a quantity of cocaine pellets, which they believed had been brought internally into the country.

They also found traces of cocaine on luggage in the house, which they think was being used as a base for distribution by the gang.

A 29-year-old Nigerian man and a 32-year-old South African woman were also detained by the gardai.

All three were being questioned last night at Store Street garda station under drug trafficking legislation. They can be held for up to seven days.

Gardai said the seizures were part of a targeted operation against west African gangs, who link up with Irish traffickers and also use couriers from the Baltic states.

The seized cocaine has an estimated street value of around €250,000.

Gardai recently seized €210,000 of cocaine in Rathmines as part of the same operation and think there may also be links to a €1.75m cocaine seizure last year at the Five Lamps on Dublin's northside.


In a separate operation, Customs officers seized 1kg of cocaine worth €70,000 after a stopping a 30-year-old Polish passenger, who had arrived at Dublin airport on a flight from Brussels on Thursday.

The man was X-rayed and found to have been carrying 95 cocaine pellets internally. He was taken to Santry garda station for questioning.

And members of the garda drug unit at Raheny are questioning a man in his mid 30s. They searched his car on the Malahide Road and recovered 4kg of cocaine, worth €280,000.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Father-of-two shot dead in his bed

Father-of-two shot dead in his bed

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Thursday November 15 2007

The cold-blooded shooting of a career criminal in south Dublin yesterday may have been linked to a double murder in the capital last month.

The latest gangland victim was named as father-of-two Seanie McMahon (35), who was shot in the head as he lay in his bed.

McMahon was associated with major crime figures and senior garda officers confirmed that several avenues of investigation were being explored.

But top of the list for the garda team is McMahon's close relationship with gangland wheeler-dealer Brian Downes, who was shot at his garage in Walkinstown less than six weeks ago.


Downes and an innocent car dealer, Eddie Ward, were gunned down inside a yard and sparked off inquiries into Downes' activities as a money launderer and vehicle supplier for the big crime gangs.

McMahon was known to work closely with Downes, although gardai were checking out reports last night that the two had fallen out some time before the shooting.

Last night gardai were trying to track down two men who had been seen acting suspiciously near McMahon's home at Donomore Avenue, in Tallaght, yesterday morning. McMahon's partner, Sinead, had left him asleep in bed as she left home for work after 9am, after earlier dropping off the two children at their local school.

She made the grim discovery when she returned to the house at 12.20pm and immediately alerted the emergency services.

Gardai believe the killer entered the house from the rear during the morning and shot McMahon in the head with a handgun. Detectives are also trying to establish if there is a link between the shooting and a stolen car which was found burnt-out in Tallaght.

The beige Volvo, 03 KE 2366, was stolen in Capel Street in the city centre on October 22 and may have been used as a getaway vehicle.

Gardai are anxious to hear from anybody, who has information on the car's whereabouts over the past three weeks. State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy will carry out a postmortem examination this morning as detectives continue a detailed forensic examination of the scene.

McMahon, who is originally from Finglas, had been living in Tallaght for more than a year.

He was released from jail in March last year after serving a 10-year sentence for a series of armed robberies.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Friday, 2 November 2007

Just 20 gangs behind bulk of serious crime

Just 20 gangs behind bulk of serious crime

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Saturday November 03 2007

Twenty gangs are responsible for the bulk of serious crime in the country, according to garda intelligence.

Some of the gangs are inter-linked, with thugs switching allegiance for various criminal activities.

Details of the gangland make-up were given to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during a confidential briefing by Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy and Deputy Commissioner Fachtna Murphy on the force's operations against serious crime.

The Taoiseach was told that a dozen of the gangs were based in Dublin while another four operated in the Limerick region, two more in Cork and the other two comprised Travellers.

Last year, gardai broke up a travellers' group responsible for a series of robberies in the south east of the country but believe two others are still at large and focusing on targets in provincial areas.

The main thrust of the garda operations have been concentrated on crime figures in Dublin and Limerick because of the level of violence surrounding them in the past few years.

The vast majority of the gangland-related murders have been linked to members of those gangs as a result of their involvement in drug trafficking and armed robberies.

Dublin's gangland was thrown into disarray last December after the capital's Mr Big, Martin "Marlo" Hyland was shot dead by two of his former associates while sleeping in the home of a relative in Finglas.

But his place was quickly taken this year by a 31-year-old Finglas criminal, who was a former member of the Hyland outfit until a falling out with the boss last year.

Most of those, who worked with Hyland, transferred their allegiance to the new leader and he also attracted the aid of other notorious figures, including former INLA terrorists who had moved full-time into criminality.

The new boss was one of those arrested yesterday by gardai after detectives foiled an attempted hold-up on a cash in transit van in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Five of his suspected associates were also detained in the round-up in the vicinity of the hold-up scene and some of them had been questioned in the past in relation to previous ATM heists while operating as a separate gang.

Two other gangs have been concentrating on eliminating each other in the infamous Crumlin-Drimnagh feud. This violent row has claimed 10 lives since the rival gangs were formed after an argument following a major drugs seizure by gardai in the centre of Dublin. One of the gang leaders is currently in jail while the other moves regularly between here and mainland Europe

On the west side of the city, two groups have been battling to gain control of the local drugs trade and fill the void that was created by the demise of the gang known as the Westies, two of whose most notorious members, Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg were murdered in Spain.

Rival gangs have also been clashing in the north inner city as a result of a rape conviction for one of the gang leaders, Christy Griffin.

Inter-gang warfare has also been responsible for the violent deaths of a number of the main players in the principal gangs based in Limerick city and armed detectives regularly patrol the streets in their home "patches" to prevent further bloodshed.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Just one in 20 gangland gun murders end in a conviction

Sunday Tribune

Mick McCaffrey
THE chance of a successful prosecution for the gangland murder of John Daly is highly unlikely, with a Sunday Tribune analysis showing that just 5% of fatal gangland shootings result in convictions.
Since 1998, there have been 92 murders that can be attributed to gangland feuds or had their origins in gang activity.
Only five of these cases have resulted in the perpetrator being convicted and gardai say it is highly unlikely the vast majority of outstanding murders will ever be solved.
Of the 141 people who have lost their lives to gun murder in Ireland over the last 10 years, just 14% of cases have resulted in convictions in court.
Gardai say they are being hampered by the unwillingness of witnesses to come forward and the lack of officers to proactively target gangland criminals.
There were 27 gun murders in Ireland last year, but only five prosecutions have been brought. Of the 17 gun murders so far in 2007, murder proceedings have been initiated in just one case. There were 21 fatal shootings in 2005 but just two convictions.
Only 40 gun murders have come before the Irish courts since 1998, with 21 convictions following, leaving a success rate of just over 50%. Many of the prosecutions that did succeed involved domestic or personal disputes, but it is in the area of gangland murders that gardai are really struggling to increase detection rates.
Of all the gangland slayings in the last 10 years, only the murders of Eddie Ryan, Kieran Keane, Brian Fitzgerald, Jason Tolan and Jonathan O'Reilly have resulted in convictions. In most of the other 87 cases, detectives believe they know who pulled the trigger, and why, but are powerless to bring prosecutions because criminals are forensically aware and destroy any evidence linking them to the crime scene.
There also exists a strict law of 'Omerta' in gangland, with criminals reluctant to go to gardai about the activities of their rivals. They instead choose to carry out revenge attacks, leading to cycles of murders like those seen in Crumlin and Limerick, where long-running gang feuds show little sign of ever ending. Independent witnesses are also often unwilling to go to the authorities with information because they fear threats and intimidation.
In the recent murder case involving Karl Breen, who stabbed his friend during a new year's eve party in a Dublin hotel, the main prosecution witness was forced to flee to Spain after being told he would be murdered if he gave evidence in court.
Meanwhile, the state's witness protection programme has been a total failure because of the unwillingness of anybody to participate in it. Under this programme, people who agree to testify in high-profile cases are given new identities and relocated abroad. But ordinary people do not want to see their lives permanently turned upside down and the programme has been almost totally shunned, except for a few criminals who have used it for their own ends.
The widespread availability of cheap firearms has also resulted in disputes now being settled with bullets instead of fists, as would have happened 15 years ago, so the murder rate is increasing rapidly. Most gangland killings happen because of drugs, and the huge sums of cash that can be accumulated from the drugs trade are making gang members only too willing to carry out killings.
Gardai say that, besides putting more officers on the streets and in specialist units to combat gang crime, there is little that can be done to reduce the current trend. One initiative that could work is using the non-jury Special Criminal Court in gangland trials, as suggested by Bertie Ahern last week. Most ordinary officers are in favour of this because they are frustrated the previous convictions of suspects and other intelligence cannot be raised in jury trials.
Informed sources say if the word of a senior garda was accepted against well-known criminals, it would go a long way towards addressing the current imbalance that exists between gun murders and convictions.
October 28, 2007

Inefficiency and lack of vision mean gang deaths go unsolved

Inefficiency and lack of vision mean gang deaths go unsolved
The very public execution of John Daly last week brings the murder toll relating to gangs in Finglas to 49 -- and all but a handful remain unsolved, writes Jim Cusack

By Jim Cusack

Sunday October 28 2007

One of the most frequent sights on RTE's recent news coverage is of its crime correspondent, Paul Reynolds, standing in a suburban working-class estate reporting details of the latest gangland slaying in Dublin.

Paul is by now familiar with the route from Montrose or his home to Ratoath Drive or Cloonlara Drive in Finglas, where the latest victim met his end. Increasingly, Paul's reports end with the observation that, given the Garda track record, there is little prospect of the latest murder being solved.

He is absolutely correct. A tally of gangland killings in or emanating from gangs in Finglas over the past decade shows that there were 49 murders, only three of which have gone to court. Figures released by the gardai a few weeks ago give a total of around 240 unsolved murders in the same period, most of them gun killings.

If it wasn't for the fact that John Daly previously made national headlines by phoning Joe Duffy on Liveline from his cell in Portlaoise prison, his death would have barely merited more than a few lines on RTE and inside-page reports in newspapers.

Daly's murder had been widely predicted since his release from prison only a few months ago. The entire criminal fraternity was angry with him for bringing attention to the use of mobile phones by prisoners, and the ensuing big sweep which led to almost 2,000 being seized from inmates. He was a particularly dumb criminal with a knack for making enemies both within and outside prison.

One of the main suspects in his murder -- a Dublin detective quipped last week that they had narrowed the list down to "around 2,000 suspects" -- is the current drug boss in Finglas, a 27-year-old who rose to prominence this year following the murder of gang leader Martin "Marlo" Hyland last December.

Finglas, along with several other working-class areas of Dublin and Limerick, has been on a downward spiral of gang violence since the mid-1990s. Gang bosses are assuming power younger and also dying younger than ever before. They are so young and inconsequential that they no longer even merit newspaper nicknames.

The criminal assets legislation introduced after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin has meant that they can't enjoy splashing out and profile building with the cash they are amassing from drug sales. They live in anonymous suburbs, often a bit away from their home turf, in modest private developments on the outskirts of the city and holiday in Spain -- where they might own nondescript "villas".

Ten years ago it would have been unheard of for someone to claim to be a "crime boss" at the age of 27. The Penguins, Generals and Monks of that era were substantial figures who spent their money in style, seeking social advancement and paying for private education for their children so they wouldn't suffer the social deprivation and lack of schooling their parents had endured.

Finglas's first major drug gang was led by Peter Judge, who was 41 when he was shot dead by the IRA as he sat in his car outside the Royal Oak pub on December 7, 1996. Judge had earned himself the newspaper soubriquet "Psycho" due to his gruesome murder of a local small-time criminal, Jock Corbally, over a small debt.

In that period, post the first ceasefire in the North, the IRA leadership had decided to keep its volunteers busy by ordering the execution of known drug dealers in Dublin and Belfast. Around 30 were assassinated -- including at least five in Finglas, where they also murdered the main heroin supplier, Joseph Foran, in February 2000. The policy was politically motivated. It made the IRA and its rising political wing, Sinn Fein, popular in working-class areas like Finglas beset by drugs and crime. The subsequent election successes with two TDs and 13 Sinn Fein councillors in Dublin was due, in part, to this policy.

However, the IRA murder spree had side effects that were to change and worsen organised crime in Dublin. The disruption of the main gangs led by older, wiser criminals paved the way for the emergence of younger and wilder gangs.

It also led to the complete corruption of the IRA itself, whose Dublin members began selectively killing some dealers and taking protection money from others. Some men who had been in the Concerned Parents Against Drugs (CPAD) marches were now hand-in-glove with the drug traffickers. Recently, some former CPAD members have actually become traffickers. The public awareness and disgust over this decline into drug dealing by IRA figures in Dublin partly explains Sinn Fein's recent decline in popularity.

Following the executions of Judge and Foran and a number of their associates in Finglas, the way was open for the rise of Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg and their gang, known as "The Westies". Coates and Sugg had been in the Garda's sights since their teenage years as a pair of wild young thieves who had aspirations and a taste for violence.

Their first move up the drug- dealing tree was to murder 43-year-old dealer Pascal Boland, whom they shot dead at his home in Mulhuddart in January 2002. They became bigger and bolder, at one point controlling almost half the heroin supply in Dublin. When they were cornered in a shoot-out with gardai in Co Meath at the end of 2003 and had to flee the country, Dublin experienced one of the worst heroin droughts in years. Garda attrition wore the Westies down and the gang disin-

tegrated. Coates, 31, and Sugg, still only 27, were eventually deposed. Their escape to Spain was not enough to save them. Their bodies were found buried under a concrete slab in January 2004.

The murders of Sugg and Coates brought another round of bloodletting as a number of gangs vied for supremacy in Finglas. Around 20 murders have taken place in or around Finglas since their deaths, including another in Spain. No single big gang has emerged in the area since; rather, three medium-sized gangs: one a gang of ATM robbers led by the 27-year-old suspected of murdering John Daly; and the other led by Marlo Hyland until his murder last December along with the innocent 20-year-old apprentice plumber, Anthony Campbell.

According to local sources, there is an inherent instability in the current situation. Hyland's gang has broken up and had to make way for the other two, currently major gangs, but the gangland scene in Finglas and its neighbouring working-class suburbs from Coolock to Blanchardstown is dangerously fractured. Alliances have been formed by gang leaders during time spent in prison, with outside gangs including those from Limerick, who have brought their own brand of madness to the Dublin scene.

The murder of John Daly has yet again highlighted the inefficiencies and lack of vision in tackling crime here.

There are fewer gardai working in the "K" district -- which covers Finglas, Blanchardstown and Cabra -- than there were 20 years ago. The "K" is only one troubled part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West, which stretches from Coolock and Blanchardstown in the north and north-west to Ballyfermot in the south and as far out as Rathcoole in the west. This division has only one chief superintendent, the recently appointed John Twomey, one detective superintendent, Hubert Collins and one uniformed superintendent, Hugh Hartnett.

Most of the unsolved murders in this State -- including the 49 in the "K" district alone -- are in DMR West. Yet, rural divisions like Carlow/Kildare or Tipperary, which have no organised crime, have exactly the same management structures and roughly similar numbers of gardai.

The Garda Reserve, an outfit which has no function in detecting or even dealing with crime, let alone serious crime, has only 170 volunteers -- yet it, too, has a chief superintendent, superintendent and other middle-ranking gardai to run it.

DMR West is, according to detectives, utterly overwhelmed. Yet it continues to be treated as though it were a rural backwater in terms of resources. One local detective recently discovered that there are as many detectives in Longford as there are in any of the DMR West stations.

Following yet another spate of gangland murders two years ago, Commissioner Noel Conroy appointed an additional 50 gardai to detective duties based in Harcourt Square, specifically to target gangland violence.

The "Nifty Fifty", as they are nicknamed, have been working tirelessly, gathering intelligence, carrying out surveillance and have had remarkable success given that most are young and relatively inexperienced in detective work. But colleagues say these young crime fighters are becoming increasingly disillusioned at their growing realisation that, if they had opted for safer, uncomplicated duties not involving crime detection, they would stand a much better chance of career enhancement.

As one pointed out: "These are great young gardai, but if they got themselves office jobs they would be better off. They see people who sit on their arses all day getting jobs. The fellow who stops people for tax and insurance is likely to be promoted more quickly."

The killing in DMR West will continue. As well as criminals killing criminals, innocent people are dying, such as Anthony Campbell, Eddie Ward (shot dead while fixing a car for criminal Brian Downes two weeks ago), Donna Cleary (shot dead at a party in Coolock in March last year) and Baiba Saulite (shot dead last November by Marlo Hyland's mob).

It's no coincidence they all were murdered by criminals from DMR West.

- Jim Cusack

Saturday, 27 October 2007

New drug route smashed after garda stakeout of deposit box

New drug route smashed after garda stakeout of deposit box

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Saturday October 27 2007

Gardai and customs officers have smashed a new drug trafficking route into the country, after a stakeout on a post office safety deposit box.

Detectives kept watch on the box, at Rathmines sorting office on the southside of Dublin, after a package of cocaine had been delivered by courier.

They arrested three men, two Nigerians and a Lithuanian, as the package was being collected.

Last night, the three suspects, all in their 20s, were being questioned at Terenure and Rathmines garda stations. They can be held without charge for up to seven days.

Gardai believe the trafficking operation was being masterminded by a gang of Nigerian criminals, who hired Lithuanians to help distribute the drugs.

One of the two Nigerians in custody was already being sought by the Garda National Immigration Bureau on a deportation order.

Last night, members of the bureau were examining the background of the other suspects, while drugs unit detectives were trying to establish if other shipments had already been brought into the country by the gang.

The package contained 3.5 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of €245,000, and it had been sent as cargo from Peru , via Belgium, to Dublin Airport.

The cocaine was discovered as a result of routine checks by customs officers at the airport earlier in the week.


The package, which was too big for parcel post, was collected by a courier and brought to the sorting office, where members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and the local drugs squad set up surveillance, until the cocaine was collected on Thursday afternoon.

One man was spotted taking possession of the package and he then joined two others in a car, which was then stopped by gardai.

Senior garda officers said this was the first time they had uncovered a trafficking gang involving a combination of Nigerians and Lithuanians.

Earlier this year, 400 kilos of herbal cannabis was also imported as cargo through Dublin Airport and detected by customs officials.

That consignment was seized by gardai after it was delivered to a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.

But officers said it was not a regular trafficking route and the move underlined the efforts by crime gangs to change tactics, in an attempt to avoid detection by the authorities.

Meanwhile, a man was in custody at Finglas garda station last night, after detectives stopped a car and seized two kilos of cocaine with a street value of €140,000. The suspect is from Baldoyle, Co Dublin.

Elsewhere, a cannabis shipment, worth €46,000, was recovered by customs officers at Rosslare ferry port yesterday.

As a result of customs profiling of passengers and risk assessment, officers searched a Polish registered car, which had arrived from Cherbourg in France. They found 3.8 kilos of cannabis concealed in a compartment in the car.

A Polish national was arrested and taken to Wexford garda station.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Tackling the gangs

Tackling the gangs

Thursday October 25 2007

Two extraordinary, organised gang murders in recent days have focussed public attention on the rise in violent crime.

The beating to death of young truck driver Paul Quinn in Co Monaghan as "punishment" for having offended some shadowy godfather, followed by the murder of garrulous young Dublin gang leader, John Daly, were remarkable for the cold blooded manner of their execution and for the killers' obvious contempt for the State and its law enforcers.

They seem to say, 'look, we can do what we like'.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the crime figures from the Central Statistics Office, as reported today, have attracted attention.

The most dramatic news is that there has been a sharp increase in the number of recorded murders in the third quarter of 2007 compared to the same period last year.

There were 21 murders, compared to 14, an increase of 50pc. We immediately think of armed gangs blasting at each other with automatic weapons.

But is that the whole story?

The fact that there have been 17 gang killings this year, the same number as in the same period last year, tells us that there has been a sharp increase in murders which are unrelated to gang crime.

This in a country with a rapidly growing population.

Yet something has to be done about the gangs. The Taoiseach has told the Dail that "draconian measures", including special criminal courts, will be considered if the gangs continue to break the law.

He must know that the gangs are not listening and have utter contempt for him, the Dail, the gardai, the courts and, ultimately, the prison authorities.

If his warning did cause a ripple of alarm in some quarters, it will have been quelled by the Minister for Justice's reminder that the Director of Public Prosecutions already possesses the power to refer trials to the special courts if he chooses.

It would be wrong to attempt to minimise the level of crime, but it is important to retain some perspective. The CSO figures show that a number of crimes that directly affect ordinary people, such as sexual offences, thefts, burglaries and robberies have actually decreased.

All credit to the gardai.

But while the drug gangs continue to wage war on the streets, the public will remain sceptical.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Hitting back at the gangsters

Hitting back at the gangsters

Tuesday October 23 2007

John Daly became a national celebrity six months ago when he telephoned Joe Duffy's radio programme from his prison cell. The incident prompted a clean-up operation and the seizure of contraband goods including mobile phones, drugs -- and two budgies.

As usual, the operation was more cosmetic than effective. There are still mobile phones in our prisons. More significantly, the gang structure inside some of them remains much the same as on the outside.

And John Daly had many enemies, inside and outside. His life was not safe, either in the jail from which he made the call or in the streets.

It would have been safer if he had been more careful after his release; if he had heeded the advice of the Garda Siochana. But he ignored their advice. And his enemies took note of his movements in and out of Dublin city centre. Early yesterday morning they fired five bullets into his body.

The details of the crime, the trauma of the taxi driver who found himself with a dead body slumped on his lap, are horrible. Much more disturbing is what lies behind the reaction of the local residents.

For the gangsters do not confine their violent activities to their internal rivalries and hatreds. They are equally prepared to kill an innocent bystander at random, or to murder a potential witness. In certain parts of Dublin, Limerick, and other cities, people fear to say anything whatever about them. That was hideously clear in the aftermath of John Daly's murder.

Sadly, it will remain the norm until such time as we witness two vital developments. The gangs must be broken. But to break them we need leadership and imagination on a scale so far unknown.

Where is the leadership? It has to come from the top. It is not exclusively a matter for Justice Minister Brian Lenihan and the police. It requires co-ordination of several Government departments, and the intense interest of the Taoiseach.

But yesterday, as a 26pc rise in the murder rate was confirmed, Bertie Ahern reverted to his "somebody should do something" mode.It was time, he said, that society stopped tolerating casual violence and thuggery in the streets.

Such a feeble comment sounds more like the remark of a caller to Mr Duffy's programme than a credible promise of the leadership and action society so badly needs.

Why killings send shiver down spine of politics

Why killings send shiver down spine of politics

By Fionnan Sheahan

Tuesday October 23 2007

It would be wrong to separate the two brutal murders which occurred over a 48 hour period at the weekend. Whatever about the different motivations behind these respective callous killings, the appalling lack of respect for human life is quite shocking.

The gangland hit on Dublin criminal John Daly and the beating to death of Paul Quinn in Co Monaghan cannot merely be put down as further statistics in areas with troubled histories with the law.

These murders were carried out by gangs who believe they can carry out such acts with apparent impunity and terrorise the communities in which they operate.

Mr Quinn's killing is all the more sinister as it is a throwback to what was thought to be a bygone era.

Both these murders have profound political consequences.

The murder of the senior gangland figure in Finglas was the seventeenth gun murder since the start of the year, the Labour Party pointed out.

So much for the "last sting of dying wasp" predicted, two years ago, by Michael McDowell.

Remember him.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte said what is of particular concern is the resurgence of gangland killings is happening at a time when conviction rates are falling further.

No wonder criminals now think they can get away with shooting an unarmed garda in broad daylight.

The latest murder won't be described as a watershed but it will spark an initial reaction from the Government in an effort to be seen to be tough on crime.

Up on the border, a community that went through decades of suffering is again thrust back into the spotlight.

Warnings from the DUP that Northern Ireland's powersharing government is under threat, if the IRA was involved in the killing, serve to show how fragile the arrangement is as it continues to bed down.

However, it's highly unlikely unionists are going to walk over this issue, particularly as the direct involvement of the Republican movement probably won't be proven.

The certainty with which Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were able to state there was no Republican involvement is nothing new.

Sinn Fein was down this route before with the Colombia Three and the killers of Robert McCartney.

The party's duplicity on those occasions and reluctance to come straight out and react as any organisation with a respect for the rule of law would mean there is still a deal of trust to be built up before they are taken seriously.

Mr Adams' condemnation of the murder, description of the perpetrators as criminals and appeal for those with information to go directly to the gardai and PSNI still takes a lot of getting used to.

It's welcome nonetheless.

In a sign of the changed times, Mr McGuinness, in his capacity as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, had been briefed by the Garda Commissioner and PSNI chief constable on the killing.

Sinn Fein can't be blamed for the actions of every thug engaged in smuggling along the border.

But these criminals would appear to have shared a common background.

While they may no longer be acting as the IRA, the old boys network has thrown them together.

The IRA activities tolerated for so long by Sinn Fein means that old habits die hard and some individuals are conditioned to feeling that beating someone to death is acceptable behaviour.

It isn't.

The killing of Mr Quinn demands a police response and the PSNI and gardai are working together to apprehend the killers.

Unfortunately the conspiracy of silence and turning a blind eye, combined with abject fear of recriminations for giving information, make the task all the more difficult.

Old habits die hard.

Wherever there is a border with different tax regimes on either side, criminality will occur.

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh last night spoke of the concerns of residents from border towns on both sides of the border and called for greater cooperation between the gardai and PSNI.

The Donegal North-East TD highlighted a measure that might well make a difference. "Criminals still feel they can use the border for their own criminal ends.

"It's high time the gardai and the PSNI were allowed to cross the border while in pursuit of criminals.

"We need to send a clear message to criminals that crossing the border won't make them immune to arrest," he said.

The apparent support of the DUP for this solution to cutting off the cross-border escape route shows that even in this new era, public worries about criminal activity is a 32-county phenomenon.

Communities are demanding action and seeking leadership, whether it's being delivered or not.

- Fionnan Sheahan

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Weapons cache linked to INLA figure, say gardai

Weapons cache linked to INLA figure, say gardai

Thursday October 04 2007

An arms and explosives find, uncovered by the Garda Special Branch in central Dublin, has been linked to a major INLA figure in the capital.

The cache was to have been used by the notorious dissident republican as part of his plans to step up an extortion campaign in the capital.

The suspect has an INLA gang based mainly in Tallaght but has been living recently in the south inner city.

Garda intelligence indicates that he has been attempting to lure former renegade republican associates and members of crime gangs to join his gang over the past couple of months.

He is believed to have organised a number of attacks involving pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices in Dublin over the last year.

The attacks have been aimed partly at extortion targets, who refused to hand over money to the gang leader, but the explosives have also been used by him to settle grievances.

Senior anti-terrorist officers also believe he has been supplying other devices to crime gangs around the city.

The find was made in an apartment at Stanhope Street, off Manor Street, in the north inner city on Tuesday night.

It followed a lengthy intelligence-gathering operation involving the Special Branch and the national surveillance unit, and was co-ordinated by the force's crime and security branch at headquarters in the Phoenix Park.


Detectives recovered two handguns and three explosive devices as well as fake security guard uniforms and balaclava helmets.

A 30-year-old man detained at the scene was still being held for questioning last night at the Bridewell garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The detained man is from Dublin and had not been known to gardai prior to his arrest.

One of the attacks linked to the INLA figure involved a military grenade, which exploded at Park Terrace in the heart of the Coombe district.

This attack, which took place last June, is thought to have stemmed from a relatively minor row between a criminal and his mother-in-law.

Garda forensic detectives and Army ordnance officers later established a link between the Coombe grenade and another used in a gang feud in Crumlin that was related to a row among prisoners in Mountjoy jail.

The grenades are thought to have been part of a batch manufactured in the former Yugoslavia and smuggled into the country by dissident republicans.

The upsurge in violent incidents where grenades and pipebombs were used prompted by the garda authorities to set up a special team to co-ordinate inquiries into the attacks in Dublin and also in Limerick.

The garda team includes members of the Special Branch, the national bureau of criminal investigation, the technical bureau and local detectives.

The INLA figure is also listed as a prime suspect for a terrorist murder in Britain.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Gangland gun victim shot five times in head

Gangland gun victim shot five times in head

Tuesday September 25 2007

Gangland murder victim Derek Duffy was shot five times in the head, it emerged last night.

Detectives were examining the likelihood that he had been lured to the area where he was shot and that he knew his killer.

Teams of gardai spent yesterday checking out known Dublin haunts of the small-time criminal to establish where he had been in the final hours before his murder in Casement Park, Finglas, on the northside of the city, on Sunday morning.

Senior officers are awaiting forensic reports which may provide them with clues that could help identify the killer.

Mr Duffy (37), from St Attracta's Road, Cabra, was murdered in the front passenger seat of his black Audi car as it was parked in the housing estate around 4am. His killer appeared to have been sitting in the driving seat of the car while an accomplice could have been standing beside an open window on the passenger side.

"At this stage we don't know yet whether the killer drove his victim to Casement Park or had jumped into the car and told him to move across to the passenger seat while the second man stood at the window," a senior investigator said last night.

" But it is likely that he knew the gunman and went to Finglas for what he thought was a meeting. The killers were well prepared and after shooting him attempted to destroy any DNA evidence by setting the car alight," he added.

Mr Duffy was not known to gardai as a major player in the criminal underworld and was not connected to any of the big gangs.

Most of his associates were in their early 20s, including a relative of a former gangland boss.

Garda intelligence indicated that he had been involved in drug dealing in several parts of the northside of the city and also on the southside but officers admitted that he had not been linked in the past to any substantial drug-trafficking operations.


Investigators are awaiting a full report from assistant State Pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan and detailed forensic and ballistic feedback from members of the Garda technical bureau from their examinations of the car.

Detectives are trying to find out if Mr Duffy had fallen out with some of his associates in recent weeks or if he owed money to members of rival gangs.

"It doesn't take much these days for guns to be used in settling an argument," one officer said.

"But this murder appears to be particularly cold-blooded and brutal".

Gardai last night renewed their appeal for help in tracing a silver-coloured saloon car, which was seen in the area around the time of the shooting. They believe the car may been used by the killers in their getaway.

They also want to track down friends or acquaintances of the dead man who had spoken to him late on Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday in an effort to find out why he had decided to travel to Casement Park, where he had no known connections.

Gardai said there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Duffy was suspicious or worried when he arrived in the area. And they said that the black Audi car had been properly parked at the side of the road.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Shooting as feud gangs gear up to kill

Shooting as feud gangs gear up to kill
Sunday July 29 2007


GARDAI fear that Limerick's simmering crime gang feud is about to boil over again as new shootings followed last week's dismissal of court appeals by the five murderers of crime chief Kieran Keane.

Early yesterday there was a shooting in the city at Georgian Villas on the Old Cork Road, where a number of shots were fired at a house around 1am.

Both a woman and a man in the house at the time were taken to the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

The woman sustained a leg injury while the man is said to be suffering from shock.

Two men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas were seen running from the scene, where a technical examination was conducted yesterday morning.

The incident came less than 72 hours after Wednesday's Court of Criminal Appeal's rejection of the appeal by the five convicted murderers of crime boss Kieran Keane.

The city has now endured eight years of violence. More than 100 criminals are currently jailed for feud-related violence, and teenagers have been arrested on the streets armed with Israeli-manufactured Desert Eagle handguns.

Dundon-McCarthy gang members were so convinced that Wednesday's appeal would succeed that a major party was planned. However, it was the Keane gang that celebrated, with the nephew of the murdered man, Liam Keane, 23, arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the city less than 24 hours after the court's decision.

The feud became even more ludicrous this week when two horses estimated to be worth €20,000 each were stolen from the Keane gang and held for ransom by their bitter rivals, the Dundon-McCarthys.

The horses were returned unharmed during the latest bizarre twist in the battle for control of the lucrative drugs trade.

For 99 per cent of people in Limerick, ordinary life goes on and the feud is a hyped media myth. But for residents in four deprived suburbs, gang war remains a decade-long reality. The decent residents in Moyross, St Mary's Park, Southill and Ballinacurra-Weston hope that the appointment of former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald to oversee urban rejuvenation will yield results.

But the path to recovery looks to be arduous. Recently, Mr Fitzgerald held a community meeting in Southill church to discuss how best to deal with anti-socialproblems.

However, he soon learnt that some residents were too afraid to attend and speak out as drug dealers were in attendance and there were fears they would enact swift retribution on anyone who revealed their activities or identities.

Across the city in Moyross, four families were left homeless this month after their houses were gutted following a fortnight of arson attacks.Up to 100 members and associates of the city's gangs have been jailed - many with lengthy sentences - yet there seems to be a conveyor belt of eager younger apprentices keen to carry on the fight.

During this bloody feud, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades have been seized and mercury tilt switch car bombs defused. There have been running battles outside Limerick courthouse, a five-year-old has been shot, assassins contracted from abroad and gunmen sent on training courses at American gun ranges.

During the height of the recent violence, gardai pounced on three teenagers connected to the Dundon-McCarthys who were about to carry out an assault using a loaded Desert Eagle handgun, grenade, shotguns and pistols.

In another incident, a 16-year-old boy was arrested on board a city-centre-bound bus packed with shoppers while he hid a Beretta double-barrel sawn-off shotgun under his jacket.

Solicitor John Devane has represented criminals on both sides. He acknowledges that impressionable teenagers are keen to learn the respect of older criminals.

"These young fellas, while they are threatening, a lot of them are full of puff. There is a sheep mentality and they follow others easily," he said.

But new methods are being used to curb the violence.

This month, Limerick City Council successfully brought a landmark case to the local district court to have a man barred from entering the local authority estate where he lives with his parents.

Paul Crawford, 33, whose brother, Noel, was shot dead last December, was slapped with an exclusion order to stay out of Southill for 18 months.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Westies' leader 'a victim of trial by media'

Westies' leader 'a victim of trial by media'
By Breda Heffernan

Friday July 27 2007

THE brother of murdered Westies gang leader Shane Coates yeseterday claimed that he was the victim of a "trial by media".

The bodies of Coates and his gangland colleague and friend Stephen Sugg were flown back to Ireland this week, six months after their remains were discovered in a concrete tomb in Spain.

Chris Coates admitted his brother was "messed up in some sort of carry on" and that drugs "could" have been involved.

But he defended his brother's "innocence" and claimed he was the victim of a trial by media.

"Shane was never charged or convicted of anything to do with drugs. And really it was the tabloid newspapers who actually accused him during his trial and then convicted him.

"I believe in due process and I think . . . everything should be done by the law. If somebody is supposed to be involved in drugs they should be charged and brought before a jury and then convicted. But not convicted in the newspaper.

"I think the tabloids have a lot to answer for and they just run amok really at the moment," he added.

When asked how his brother could have found himself buried under six feet of concrete in a Costa Blanca industrial estate, Mr Coates agreed that something untoward was going on and that drugs could have been involved.

"Obviously he was messed up in some sort of carry-on," he said.

Shane Coates was buried in a private funeral amid emotional scenes just six hours after his remains were flown back to Ireland on Wednesday morning.

Mr Coates told Newstalk 106-108's Lunchtime with Eamon Keane his family first learned his brother was missing about two years ago. Authorities in Spain discovered his remains around six months later.

"The family has had the time to sort of get used to it. However, at the funeral yesterday, I have to say that . . . coming up to the funeral you feel like you've sort of got over this type of thing. But actually it was quite an emotional day at the funeral. To see his three young kids getting upset and the rest of the family got upset seeing that."

But he said his family have a certain amount of closure now that Coates's body has been brought home and that "it's good that it's all . . . done with".

The bodies of Coates (31) and Sugg (27) were released by Spanish authorities after their identities were confirmed through DNA testing. Gardai flew to Spain last November with DNA swabs from relatives.

The pair fled Ireland in 2004 after a reign of terror against other drug dealers.

They moved to Torrevieja in south east Spain to recreate their Irish empire but fell foul of rival drug gangs.

Police suspect they had swindled other dealers out of a shipment of cocaine and hashish.

The two west Dublin men were lured from their villa complex at Orihuela Costa, outside Torrevieja, on the evening of January 31, 2004, in the belief that they were going to discuss a drugs deal.

Instead, Coates, from Hartstown, and Sugg, from Corduff, Blanchardstown, were taken to Catral, and shot dead at point-blank range.

- Breda Heffernan

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Ireland's cocaine coast

A recent bust in the 'Irish box' shows drug smugglers are ruling over the Cork shore
Henry McDonald and Mark Townsend
The Observer, Sunday 8 July 2007
It is known as the 'Irish box' - 7,500 miles of water and coastline stretching from the republic's Atlantic seaboard around to Dublin in the east. Vast expanses of these waters are subject to freak and often rapid weather changes that, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, make them 'nearly impossible to patrol' and an ideal launch pad for drug smugglers to penetrate the lucrative UK market.
Detectives in Ireland and Spain are still questioning three men following the recovery of hundreds of millions of euros worth of cocaine off the west Cork coast last Monday - Ireland's largest ever cocaine bust. The Irish drugs squad and detectives in the UK are still searching for two other men they believe are connected to the operation.
Poor weather this weekend was preventing divers from searching for the rest of the drugs believed to be have been dumped off the coast. Navy divers have been on stand-by to search caves in the Dunlough Bay area for stray bales of cocaine. Meanwhile, in force eight gales, the coastline is still being patrolled by gardai and customs officials for contraband that might have washed ashore.
The Irish navy has managed to crack the memory of navigational equipment seized from the inflatable craft used by the suspected smugglers and this should reveal the vessels' routes.
Whatever the outcome, the international criminal gangs behind the alleged smuggling network will continue to use Ireland as a distribution centre for cocaine aimed at the British market, despite the physical risks presented by west Cork's rugged coastline.
Security sources in Dublin this weekend said they believed the shipment would be only the first in a series of landings off Ireland's south-west coast during the summer. Last week unseasonably rough weather caught the traffickers by surprise and they were unable to handle their inflatable craft, known as 'ribs', in the strong seas off Mizen Head.
'The criminal gangs believe the Irish coast is hard to patrol,' said a senior garda official. 'They won't give up just because of one setback. We estimate that for every shipment that gets caught or is compromised through bad weather, another nine will get through.'
The British gangs are following the route used by the Irish-born drug trafficker Brian 'the Milkman' Wright, thus known because he always delivered. During a lifetime of crime, Wright never paid tax, never had a bank account or credit card, and had no national insurance number. Despite being almost illiterate, his drug-dealing empire brought him a box at Royal Ascot, a private jet, racehorses and a host of celebrity friends.
Although he is now behind bars after being sentenced to 30 years in a London court earlier this year, associates of Wright's gang based in England and in Spain's Costa del Sol are thought to have been behind last Monday's seizure.
It was Wright who pioneered the landing of huge cocaine shipments off the south-west of Ireland in the early 1990s, leading to him becoming one of Europe's top drug smugglers. The 'Milkman's' route was first used in 1996, when the Sea Mist, a chartered yacht carrying 599kgs of cocaine, was seized in Cork harbour. Like the aborted plot last week, the Sea Mist docked to seek shelter after running into severe storms. That time Wright escaped conviction even though the crew were subsequently all jailed.
Wright's luck, however, finally ran out last year when the British authorities followed up an investigation into the seizure of five tons of cocaine, worth an estimated €400m, from a ship off the Canary Islands in June 2005. Twelve people were arrested and are now serving lengthy prison sentences. 'The Milkman' fled to Cyprus but then went back to Spain where he was arrested and finally extradited to the UK.
According to garda sources, Ireland has become the favoured route of the cocaine smuggling network opened up by Wright. The gang responsible would know that Irish customs have only one 'cutter' vessel - a craft suitable for inshore work but not the high seas - to patrol 7,500 miles of the 'Irish box'.
The vulnerability of Ireland's coastline was first highlighted seven years ago by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA found that stretches of coast are 'nearly impossible to patrol'. It concluded: 'Ireland's isolated coasts are ideal for shielding offload operations. The country's internal role as a transit point will accelerate as drug trafficking organisations continue to favour using the island for continental and British-bound cocaine and hashish shipments.'
The situation around Ireland contrasts with other drug smuggling routes. Since February 1996, the Royal Navy and UK customs officers have seized 18.36 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of £1.5bn on other sea routes.
Twelve days ago the UK's largest warship, HMS Ocean, seized cocaine with a street value of £29m from a vessel in the Caribbean. Fifteen bales of the drug were hauled up from the sea by helicopter after smugglers threw them into the water. Speaking from the ship's control deck off the Caribbean coast, captain Russ Harding told The Observer his crew had been kept busy patrolling the 'air corridor' favoured by cocaine traffickers between South America and the Caribbean. He said their task was to monitor light aircraft carrying the drug to either makeshift runways or towards 'drop points' in the Atlantic where they would jettison their illicit cargo to be picked up by ships bound for Europe.
While the Irish Naval Service has been strengthened in terms of craft and sailor numbers in recent years, it remains stretched because it also protects Ireland's dwindling fishing stocks. Irish opposition leader Enda Kenny has dubbed the Irish Navy the 'Cinderella service' of the country's defence forces, saying that at any one time there are only two ships patrolling the seas around the Republic.
Lieutenant Commander Bill Lauste of the Royal Navy said that the British gangs behind the new routes are well connected and ruthless.
'It can be dangerous, but if they see a helicopter with a large gun they tend to come quietly. But the really dangerous people are often those behind the scene. Obviously these operations are making a few people pretty angry and we are constantly reviewing our security.'
Much of the intelligence on the cocaine smuggling networks is orchestrated by a new, highly secretive pan-European Maritime Analysis Operations Centre (MAOC) in Portugal. British intelligence officers with experts from Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France and the Netherlands monitor vessel movements from the coca plantations of South America to the Caribbean via the 'Irish box'. The challenge to the MAOC team is daunting. More than 220m sea containers are transported across the oceans and seas each year, with 90 per cent of cargos escaping inspection.
The MAOC centre, which will open later this year, is aimed at protecting the EU's Atlantic borderline from cocaine traffickers. A source inside Soca, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, said: 'Actionable intelligence is matched to maritime assets to counter the threat in the most effective way possible. This will increase the operational capability of the participating countries to stem the flow of cocaine and improve our common knowledge of the gangs involved.'
The problem for MAOC and other agencies involved in halting the cocaine tide is the dearth of co-operation between services like the Royal Navy and its smaller Irish equivalent. Last year the then Conservative shadow Northern Ireland Secretary David Lidington called for a new Anglo-Irish naval agreement allowing the two services to work together on joint patrols and to share intelligence aimed at shutting down the sea bound cocaine smuggling networks. Last year the Irish Defence Forces confirmed that there was no formal arrangement between the two navies. Since then there has been no progress.
For the traffickers the risks of using the 'back door' into Europe and the UK - the often-treacherous waters - are outweighed by the rewards. According to the latest United Nations annual global drugs report, around 2.4 per cent of the UK population admit they have tried cocaine - four times as many as a decade ago. Cocaine abuse, the report found, is high among 'educated professionals' in the UK, Italy and Spain. The well-off, it seems, are the market that Wright's successors are out to exploit.
Drug smugglers have been using the Irish coastline for nearly 40 years. It was first established by the British marijuana smuggler turned writer Howard Marks and his Belfast-born sidekick Jim 'the Fox' McCann. But in terms of ruthlessness and organisation today's gangs are in a league of their own. A number of the gangsters involved are believed to be among the UK's 1,600 'most harmful criminals', according to Soca, Britain's version of the FBI. Such individuals, many now fantastically wealthy through crime, are unlikely to give up their empire or shut down the Irish route without putting up a fight.
• A 22-year-old man has been charged in connection with the seizure of more than €100m worth of cocaine in west Cork. At a special sitting of Clonakilty district court, Gerard Hagan, from Liverpool, was charged with possession of cocaine at Dunlough Bay, Mizen Hand, on 2 July.
Hagan was remanded in custody to appear before Dunmanway district court next Wednesday.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Haul could have halved price of cocaine here

Haul could have halved price of cocaine here
Wednesday July 04 2007

THE €200m west Cork drugs haul would, if it hit Irish streets, have halved the price of cocaine within a week.

The startling admission came as gardai stressed that they are convinced the haul - which weighs 1.5 tons - was not destined for Ireland.

Detectives believe that only a tiny portion of the drugs would ever have hit the streets of Dublin, Cork and Limerick - possibly as a 'thank you' from the international drug smugglers to an Irish gang for their provision of local logistics.

But the bulk of the haul was destined for Britain - where the key cocaine markets are in London , Manchester and Birmingham.

Due to a number of factors, the cocaine is worth vastly more to the international drug gangs on the British market than here.

However, the staggering value of the shipment has thrown the spotlight on Ireland's alarming surge in cocaine use.

Leading medical officials, such as A&E consultant Dr Chris Luke and addiction councillors, have warned that cocaine abuse and the dramatic growth in supply of the drug now poses the single greatest public health threat to Ireland.

In the whole of last year, the Gardai and Customs & Excise recovered a total of €100m of drugs.


Monday, 2 July 2007

Suspected drug gang chief held

Suspected drug gang chief held
Ruthless group linked to raid which smashed major operation

Monday July 02 2007

THE suspected second-in-command of one of Dublin's feuding drugs gangs was in custody last night after gardai claimed they had broken up an international drugs supply route into the country.

Drugs with a street value of up to €3.5m were seized in the garda search at an industrial estate in west Dublin.

Some 420 kilos of herbal cannabis, 10 kilos of cocaine, a gun and ammunition were seized in the raid, and gardai believe it is indicative of the huge amounts of drugs being imported into the country.

The herbal cannabis was found in 420 vacuum packed bags and a 9mm Beretta handgun and a quantity of ammunition were also found during the search.

Depending on the purity of the drugs, the slabs of cocaine that were also recovered could have a street value of between €700,000 and €1m.

The seizure is part of an ongoing operation between gardai and members of several UK and European police forces.

"It's a joint police operation involving forces from our own country, the UK and Europe," Inspector Jerry Bergin, who is leading the investigation, said yesterday.

The amount was substantial and gardai were satisfied it had resulted in a major interruption of the flow of cannabis and other drugs into the country.

"It's a significant seizure and it's maybe a reflection also of the amount of cannabis and cocaine that is being imported," he said.

A man in his 20s who was arrested in connection with the raid is believed to be the second-in-command of one of the feuding Crumlin-Drimnagh gangs.

Since the feud erupted in violence in August 2001, 11 people have been killed.

Six of the deaths have been straight tit-for-tat murders between the rival factions who have grown into major cocaine dealers.

Another three murders were internal killings over drugs within the two gangs.

- Fergus Black and Jason O'Brien

Friday, 8 June 2007

CAB sends out warning to crooks as over €85m seized

CAB sends out warning to crooks as over €85m seized

By Tom Brady

Friday June 08 2007

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has smashed previous records with its seizure of cash and property, suspected of being acquired through crime, in the past year.

The bureau seized assets with a total value of almost €66m last year and collected another €19m in taxes on income believed to have been derived from criminal activity.

The bureau's annual report, which is due to be published later this month, shows its officers also saved another €297,744 in social welfare payments by using legislation to prevent some of its suspects from drawing the dole.


A further €439,704 was identified as overpayments of assistance and, through repayments by instalments and deductions from current entitlements, a total figure of €139,524 was recovered.

But the big money spinner for the CAB, which marked 2006 apart from the rest of its brief career, arose from a decision by the High Court to grant an order freezing lands owned by Jackson Way Properties at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

The CAB claimed the value of the lands had jumped by €53m as a result of corrupt conduct, leading to "unjust enrichment" of Jackson Way Properties under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court was told that 17 acres were rezoned from agricultural to industrial at a special meeting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in December 1997 and CAB argued that the rezoning decision had been procured by corrupt payments to councillors.

The court heard from the then bureau chief, Felix McKenna, that the corrupt payments had ben made by lobbyist Frank Dunlop to further an agreement with a Dublin arcade owner, John Kennedy.

He said the beneficial owners of Jackson Way Properties were Mr Kennedy and a solicitor, John Caldwell.

The High Court granted an order under section 16B of the Proceeds of Crime Act allowing the CAB to freeze the property.

Another victim of the bureau crackdown was the girlfriend of the leader of one of the crime gangs involved in the deadly Drimnagh-Crumlin feud, which has claimed nine lives over the past six years.

The CAB seized a jeep, which had been purchased by the woman for €28,000, on the basis that officers suspected the money had been acquired through criminal activity.


Officers argued successfully in court that the bureau's legal officer should be appointed as a receiver, under Section 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The woman's partner is currently in jail.

In total, the bureau secured orders for assets worth €65.8m last year, in contrast to the previous year's figure of €7.3m. The tax collection total of €19.2m compared to the 2005 figure of €16m. CAB also seized stg£294,230.

Set up in 1996 following journalist Veronica Guerin's murder, the CAB is now headed by Det Chief Supt John O'Mahony.

- Tom Brady

DNA identifies drugs gang pair buried in concrete

By Gerard Couzens and Tom Brady

Friday June 08 2007

SPANISH authorities have used DNA to formally identify two murdered Irish gangsters whose bodies were found there nearly a year ago.

Drug baron Shane Coates (31), and his right-hand man Stephen Sugg (27), were discovered buried under concrete on an industrial estate on the Costa Blanca last July.

Their bodies were officially identified with the aid of DNA swabs that had been brought to Spain by members of the Garda national drugs unit.

But 11 months on, their families are still unable to give them a proper burial in Ireland.

The Spanish authorities are unable to give a date for the release of the bodies because of legal technicalities.

This is because another Irishman is under police investigation in connection with their disappearance.

The sole suspect is a 36-year-old Dublin man. Originally from Finglas, he has been living in the holiday resort of Torrevieja for almost six years.

He had previously rented out the warehouse, where the bodies were found under a concrete floor, in the farming town of Catral near Torrevieja, and was arrested shortly after the find.

He remains on police bail and has to report to a local police station every 15 days.

He was locked up in maximum-security Foncalent Jail for several weeks before being freed on bail.

Coates and Sugg, members of the notorious Westies crime gang, left Ireland in 2004 after a reign of terror against other drug dealers.

The pair moved to Torrevieja in south east Spain to recreate their Irish empire but fell foul of rival drug gangs.

Police suspect they had swindled other dealers out of a shipment of cocaine and hashish.

The two west Dublin men were lured from their villa complex at Orihuela Costa, outside Torrevieja, on the evening of January 31, 2004, in the belief that they were going to discuss a drugs deal. Instead, Coates, from Hartstown, and Sugg, from Corduff, Blanchardstown, were taken to Catral, and shot dead at point-blank range.

- Gerard Couzens and Tom Brady

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Gang suspected of 'execution hit' on drug dealer near school

By Ralph Riegel

Wednesday May 23 2007

GARDAI launched a murder hunt yesterday after the execution-style killing of a convicted drug dealer just yards from a national school.

Detectives now believe that David 'Boogie' Brett (33) was lured to the remote north Cork school by drugs associates.

Gardai were last night trying to confirm whether the killing was carried out on behalf of a Limerick or Dublin-based gang. They admitted the murder has hallmarks of a contract hit.

The man's mobile phone records will form a key part of the inquiry, in particular regarding his contacts just before his death.

Friends of his family last night admitted they were appalled at the killing. They said the dead man had been trying to build a new life with his three children, aged three to nine years.

His body was found by a local woman near his 1999-registered silver Audi A4 car off a road outside Ballydesmond on the Cork-Kerry border on Monday night.

The car was parked near Foilogohig national school, about three miles from Ballydesmond village, between Kanturk and Rathmore.


Mr Brett died of one or possibly two gunshot wounds to the upper neck and head. Forensic experts believe he was shot at point-blank range and would have died instantly.

There were no initial signs of a struggle and detectives suspect he knew his killers.

Mr Brett had previously served a jail term for drugs offences involving supply of ecstasy tablets. He was known to be associated with one of the most notorious Cork drugs gangs, which makes millions each year from cocaine and ecstasy.

The dead man left Cork city two years ago, relocating to Charleville on the Cork-Limerick border with his partner and children, two boys and a girl. He maintained very close links with his native Togher, in Cork. From a family of eight, he had three brothers and four sisters, all of whom live in the Cork area.

Last night, garda sources stressed that while they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the killing, they are working on the suspicion it may have been drug-related.

Gardai were last night examining reports that he may have owed a substantial sum to underworld figures for several years. It is believed he was working hard to clear the debts, but that those involved were demanding repayments on a faster basis.

After the body was discovered, Gardai immediately sealed off the entire Foilogohig Road area. The murder probe is now being led by Supt Noel Galwey.

A full technical examination by members of the Garda Technical Bureau began at first light yesterday. Motorists were warned to avoid the area as the road remained closed. A preliminary examination was conducted by Dr Margaret Bolster.

The body was later removed to hospital where a full post-mortem examination was scheduled to be carried out last night.

Gardai have appealed to anyone who was in the Foilogohig Road area on Monday and who may have spotted activity of any kind to contact them. A special incident room has been set up at Kanturk Garda Station.

- Ralph Riegel

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Sunday Tribune
Families of 'Westies' crime bosses still waiting for bodies from Spain
Mick McCaffrey Security Editor

The bodies of Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) were found under concrete in Alicante last JulyNINE months after the bodies of two notorious Westies crime gang bosses were discovered in Spain, their families have still not been told when they can be brought home for burial.

Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) were found under concrete on an industrial estate close to Alicante last July. The two men were murdered in January 2004 after being lured to a meeting with a rival gang on the premise of negotiating a drug deal.

Although the remains found have been officially confirmed as being those of Coates and Sugg, Spanish police have made no effort to contact the men's families in Dublin.

Shane Coates's brother Christian says they expected the bodies to be repatriated in the weeks after they were found."We have heard absolutely nothing, nothing at all. We are still waiting and have had no information from the Spanish authorities. We are just waiting on something to happen and you can imagine how the families are feeling. We thought it would all be finished by now, " said Christian Coates, an immunologist at Trinity College.

The HSE has agreed to give a grant of several thousand euro to the Coates family in order to offset the costs of transporting Shane Coates home.

Gardai are also puzzled by the delay and have not heard from their Spanish counterparts either. Detectives are eager to be informed of when the funerals will be so they can put together a security operation to ensure there is no trouble.

One source said: "It is unclear why they haven't been flown back here yet but the Spanish police are notoriously laid back and the bodies are probably sitting in a morgue somewhere awaiting clearance from the coroner. It must be difficult for the families. Sugg and Coates were nasty people but they still had loved ones."

Coates and Sugg were the feared leaders of the Westies, a vicious drug gang operating around west Dublin from its base in Blanchardstown.

They ruled their turf with ruthless efficiency and would stab and mutilate hopeless drug addicts for as little as a 20 debt. One man required 80 stitches after being slashed with a carpet knife while a woman had a cigarette extinguished on her breast.

The Westies, which comprised around two dozen hardcore members, made millions of euro dealing cocaine, heroin, cannabis and ecstasy. In May 2003, the gang stole a cache of weapons from a licensed firearms dealer in Balbriggan, Co Dublin and gardai traced them to a house in Virginia, Co Cavan.

Shane Coates was injured during a shootout but managed to escape. Twenty-one firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered by gardai. Coates then fled to Alicante and Sugg followed him weeks later.

Alicante is home to several Irish criminals who use it as a base for importing drugs.

Not long after arriving in the city Sugg and Coates started to cross rival gangsters and threatened them. This did not go down well with the Irish who were already established there.

One of the main Irish mobsters in Alicante was a Dubliner who moved to Spain five years ago, and who had developed contacts with the Russian mob and initially helped the Westies when they arrived. They soon went into direct competition with him and the man invited them to a meeting in the hills of Caltra. His associates were waiting and tortured the two men before shooting them in the head and dumping them in a six-foot hole at the side of a warehouse before pouring fresh concrete over it.

Undercover gardai from Blanchardstown station were deployed to Spain and received detailed confidential information specifying where Coates and Sugg were buried.

A subsequent excavation of the warehouse by Spanish police led to the bodies being recovered. Local people have arrested one man as part of their investigation.
April 29, 2007