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

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