Sunday, 27 April 2008

GANGLAND -- nine ways to solve the crisis

Sunday Tribune

Ali Bracken
SINCE the beginning of the year, there's been an average of one gangland killing every fortnight. Eight murders in four months isn't a notable increase compared with last year's figures but it's a clear indication that gang feuding is a phenomenon that continues to thrive in line with our illegal drugs market. Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy indicated his recognition of this in January by establishing the Organised Crime Unit as a permanent fulltime specialist taskforce to tackle gangrelated crime and increasing their resources.

Media attention has focused on Dublin's Sheriff Street and Limerick in recent weeks, as gang-related tensions escalated. But the most worrying trend for gardai is that this problem is not confined to specific areas but is touching most parts of the country and affecting society as a whole.

Here, the Sunday Tribune looks at some possible solutions to gangland crime and examines how other jurisdictions have tried to break the cycle of violence.


TWENTY-FOUR hour around the clock surveillance of known gang leaders is the only way to stop spiralling gang-related violence, according to Fine Gael justice spokesman, Charlie Flanagan.

"We have a different situation to other countries because of our size. We should put gangland leaders under 24-hour around-theclock surveillance. The gardai know who they are and should be provided with the resources to monitor them. There should also be an investment in top level surveillance equipment like CCTV so there can be electronic monitoring as well. It would be a costly exercise but you cannot put a price on the benefits this would have for local communities. Look at the situation in Limerick. The people in charge of the regeneration down there acknowledge that for it to be successful, the gang leaders have to be taken away from the communities."

Flanagan added that mandatory life sentences of 25 years should be enforced without the possibility of early parole. "At the moment, the average time spent in prison for someone serving life for murder is 13-and-ahalf to 14 years. Life should mean life. There is also a legal instrument under the 2007 Criminal Justice Act for someone to be convicted of directing gang activity. No-one has been charged with this yet."


AS IRELAND'S witness protection programme is not run on a statutory basis many people are reluctant to testify against former criminal associates, according to Labour Party spokesman on justice, Pat Rabbitte.

"In most other jurisdictions, the witness protection programme is statutory. This gives people willing to participate and turn state's evidence against criminals an extra protection. As far as I'm aware, much of the money allocated to the programme has gone unspent. It needs to be put on a statutory footing to ensure its constitutionality. The Labour Party have published a bill on this and the court of criminal appeal has been critical of the fact that it's not a statutory programme.

The gardai don't seem enamoured of the programme."

He added that he would also support the admittance in trials of garda electronic surveillance in evidence against known criminals. "This would greatly help in convicting people. The origins of the problem of gangland crime essentially lie in the enormous profit to be made from the drugtrafficking industry. There is so much money to be made. I don't think legalising drugs to take it out of the hands of the criminals is necessarily the answer. There are some arguments for it but there are also downsides for society."


INTERNMENT of high-ranking gangland figures must be introduced if we intend to seriously tackle gangland crime, according to Fine Gael Limerick councillor Kevin Kiely.

"What's happening in Limerick is not exclusive . . . gangland crime is happening all over the country. We've lost control of our streets and the judiciary are not equipped to handle it. A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into a pub with a sawn-off shotgun and only for the quick thinking of a few locals who detained him, who knows what would have happened? That man admitted the gun was his and was charged and then granted bail anyway.

"I would favour selective internment for high-ranking gang members nationwide and those involved in feuding, not just in Limerick.

The gardai know who these people are. We've a jail below in Spike Island and plenty of military barracks that could be used. There would need to be legislation brought in to do this and we're due to meet defence minister Willie O'Dea to discuss this."

Kiely is also chairman of Limerick's joint policing committee. His call for internment has been supported by former Southill curate Fr Joe Young. Any attempt to introduce it would be vigorously opposed by civil liberties groups and some political parties (see number 5).


STATE agencies must share intelligence and lockdown the country's ports and airports to hit drug gangs where it hurts, according to Sinn Fein justice spokesman, Aengus O Snodaigh. "Gangland violence is a huge problem in my own area, Crumlin and Drimnagh. There's been an on-going feud there that's claimed a number of lives. One of the problems is the availability of guns despite Operation Anvil. Every time a drug shipment comes in, they throw in a sawn-off shotgun, rocket-launcher or grenade. These guys are ruthless. All the state agencies need to work together and lock down the ports and the airports. Another thing we need to do is admit this is a national crisis."

Gardai also need their long-promised radio communication system, he added. "At the moment, they have an out-dated system that anyone can easily hack into so the gardai use their mobile phones, which isn't ideal. I'd also support a state mechanism being developed so that feuding gangs can sit down together and sort out their problems. The department of justice could run this and get support from local gardai and community workers. People never thought peace would be achieved in the North but it was through discussion and negotiation."


SEGREGATION in Northern Ireland had disastrous consequences and social exclusion should not have had the opportunity to develop in Southern Ireland, according to a human rights and social change organisation, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) in Derry.

"I don't claim to be an expert but when I look at Limerick, it seems to be the kind of situation that led to rioting in Belfast during the Troubles.

"It's an appalling disgrace considering the economy that's thrived in the Republic that that level of deprivation has been allowed to develop, " according to PFC spokesperson Paul O'Connor.

"The only lesson the south can draw from the north is not to demonise communities.

Don't allow the demonisation of the people of Limerick. The tabloid media play a definite role in that. To introduce something like internment in the south would be to set aside due process. Efforts should be made so that no communities are segregated."


STEERING young people away from criminality before they become seriously involved could reduce involvement in gang crime and save the state hugely in financial and social terms, according to an Irish academic of criminal justice law.

"We need to look at alternatives to imprisonment. Imprisonment is reactive, we need to take a more proactive approach and stop crime before it happens, " says Walter O'Leary, course leader of Waterford Institute of Technology's (WIT) undergraduate BA in Criminal Justice Studies. "Discussion around the extension of community policing is welcome. It's shown to have an impact on reducing crime.

"The establishment of garda sub-stations in communities would have a positive effect because gardai aren't seen as only arriving when there is trouble . . . they are already part of the community. We need to move away from the model of imprisonment and rather spend the money on imaginative ways to give people alternatives to crime, like those who've dropped out of the conventional school system.

"To fully measure the cost of crime consider the garda investigation, prosecution, judiciary, insurance costs and the medical and mental health cost sometimes incurred to the victim.

Imprisonment is always necessary in some cases but it should be seen as a last resort because of the high instance of recidivism."



GANG culture will thrive in deprived areas as long as society continues to demand illegal drugs, says Prof Ian O'Donnell at UCD's School of Law. "Gangland murder in Ireland didn't exist a decade ago, it's a new class of killing. Gang activity thrives on the sale of drugs. Becoming involved with gangs is a societal thing, it comes about because of inequality. It has become a very high-risk activity for the young people who become involved in terms of the levels of violence as well as prison. It is their opportunity to become successful because third-level education often isn't a possibility. Those involved are generally from marginalised communities but it is all of society that is fuelling it because of the demand for drugs.

Affluent people have a penchant for drugs as much as the least well-off. As long as the marketplace demands it, criminals will use risky behaviour to provide the product."


THE murder rate in many of America's big cities including New York and Chicago have fallen dramatically in recent years as a result of a "zero-tolerance" approach to homicide.

Killings in Chicago were down 25% last year and New York recorded its fewest homicides in 40 years. Chicago, the US murder capital in 2003 with 598 homicides, saw the number fall to 447. It was the first time that the city had ended a year with fewer than 500 murders since 1965. Police claimed credit for targeting the city's street gangs. An extra 180 officers from the Targeted Response Unit were despatched every night to areas plagued by gang violence. As a result, killings fell most sharply in the most dangerous neighbourhoods, with murder down 55% in one district.

The Chicago police also revived their gang intelligence unit, which had been disbanded in the late 1990s because of corruption. Various US states are currently in the process of installing technology that can pinpoint the occurrence of gunshots in cities.

The zero tolerance policing tactics were first pioneered by New York, which saw its murder rate fall from a peak of 2,245 during the crack cocaine epidemic of 1990 to less than 450 in 2007 . . . its lowest since 1963. This dramatic fall in violent crime has transformed the Big Apple.



MONEY seized from criminals involved in gang and knife crime in London is made available to groups working in the areas worst affected by such activity and is helping turn the tide of gang culture.

The government-supported initiative began in 2005 and the money seized from criminals is funding 10 projects with nearly a quarter of a million each year.

The 10 projects to be awarded funding operate mainly in Lambeth, Newham, Southwark, Haringey, Brent and Hackney.

The initiative followed figures from a charity survey which revealed that 1% of children in some high crime areas have carried a handgun.

The survey, by the Communities That Care organisation, highlighted the link between gun carrying and other criminal behaviour such as drug abuse.

"For this reason it is vital that we work in partnership to offer advice to young people, steering them away from involvement with weapons and gangs. Gun, gang and knife crime has a violent impact on local communities in London, and we need to tackle this issue at a grassroots level, " said Roger King, regional crime director for London.
April 27, 2008

Gardai aim to break up top three gangs

Sunday Tribune

Organised Crime Unit hopes to disband gangs with a year
Ali Bracken
THE Organised Crime Unit hopes to disband the three biggest gangs in Ireland within the next 12 months, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

The unit, which Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy made a full-time specialist task force to tackle gang-related crime in January, is monitoring between 12 and 15 serious gangs operating in Ireland.

"Unfortunately, we have a number of serious gangs operating in Ireland, " said a senior source from the unit. "There are about 12 to 15 involved in either the drugs trade, cash-intransit robberies or feuding.

Often they are involved in all three. Our job is to build up a profile of who the main players are. Within each gang, there are five or six guys in the top echelons."

The task force, established in 2005 to tackle gangs and their criminal activity, broke up Dublin crime boss Martin 'Marlo' Hyland's gang in 2006.

Hyland was in charge of a loosely-connected gang of up to 30 associates, with addresses at Finglas, Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Coolock, Dunshaughlin, Clonshaugh, Ratoath, Skerries, Walkinstown, Ballyfermot, the north inner city, Cabra and Navan.

He was shot dead in December 2006 and former associates have been linked to his murder.

"We had great success with dismantling Hyland's crime gang and have had a number of successful prosecutions.

Under Operation Oak, we got some of the lower-ranking guys in his gang out of the picture and that led us to the bigger players because they had to get involved in the work that would usually be done by less important gang members.

Within the next 12 months we would hope to dismantle the three biggest gangs in the country in a similar way to Hyland's gang, " the source said.

The three most significant gangs involved in feuding are in Limerick, Crumlin and Drimnagh and Sheriff Street in Dublin.

"At the moment, gangs in those areas are most involved in feuding. But that could change within a matter of months. Our work is intelligence-based from a number of different sources. In Crumlin, we recently stopped a wellknown criminal with a Glock and two grenades. Each gang we monitor is given an operational name. We develop surveillance of them in a number of ways, " he said.

The Sheriff Street feud erupted nine days ago with the murder of Anthony Russell, 30, who was shot dead as he sat drinking in the Ardlea Inn in Artane.

The two gangs in the areas were once associates but their drugs and armed robbery gang split when its leader, Christy Griffin, was accused four years ago of raping his stepdaughter. Griffin, 38, originally from Canon Lillis Avenue, Dublin 1, is serving a life sentence for those rapes.

The killing raised fears that the feud, which had been relatively calm in recent months compared with 2006, has now significantly escalated.

A major challenge for the organised crime unit is that gangs are becoming sophisticated in identifying how undercover gardai are operating and monitoring them.

"They are meeting each other in court and swapping stories about how not to get caught. They are becoming aware of our methodologies.

They are also learning from there subversives. It's just another challenge for us.

Another challenge is the availability of guns and criminals' easy access to them. They are often thrown in with drugs shipments. All of the gangs we are monitoring are dangerous. A feud can often be sparked by a simple thing like one guy giving another guy's mother abuse. Often they do it to raise the tempo. They are getting younger and more violent."

The growing use of pipe bombs by criminals is also of major concern.

"It's a new departure.

They're easy and cheap to make and criminals are increasingly using them. But there are many devices seized by gardai before they're used.

We are now targeting pipe bomb-making."
April 27, 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Bomb attacks soar in bitter gang wars

Bomb attacks soar in bitter gang wars
INLA ‘expertise’ used to construct devices

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Thursday April 17 2008

CRIMINAL gangs are responsible for a big increase in the number of callouts involving army bomb disposal teams so far this year.

The gangs are using crude explosive devices to send warnings to thugs in rival factions, settle scores in local feuds, or to threaten figures targeted for extortion.

If the number of callouts continues at the present rate this year they will end up double those recorded in 2007.

Although use of the devices has been confined largely to 'ordinary' criminals in the past 18 months, senior garda and army officers are satisfied that former paramilitaries are hiring out their 'expertise' to manufacture them.

The increasing use of pipebombs and other devices is underlined in the latest military figures showing that army ordnance teams have been called out to 42 incidents in the first three months of this year.

Two further incidents on Monday and yesterday take the total to 44.

If the trend continues for the rest of 2008. it would bring the overall total up to around 160, compared with an annual total of just 98 in 2007 and 101 the previous year.

The statistics also show there have been a dozen hoax calls so far this year, one more than the total for all of 2007 and four more than 2006.

A hoax device is made up to resemble a bomb but has no explosive content.

But the Army points out that although the hoax does not present any danger to life, it involves a similar amount of effort by the gardai to evacuate an area and a full callout of Army personnel while creating fear and concern among the residents of the local area.

A detailed examination of the devices have found similarities between a number of them, adding to the belief that many of the gangs are using the same bomb makers.

All of them are crudely manufactured and largely unsophisticated and for explosive content the makers depend mainly on fireworks or shotgun cartridges.


Sometimes, nails are added as fragmentation to cause potentially greater injury and shock when a device explodes.

A special garda team, led by a detective superintendent, has been investigating the bomb attacks in a bid to source the manufacturers and narrow the list of gangs using the devices.

But both garda and army officers are satisfied that members of the INLA, which is now involved full-time in criminal activity, and other dissident republicans have been selling their limited bomb-making skills to the criminals.

Meanwhile, a suspect device planted near the entrance to the Richmond courthouse in North Brunswick Street, in Dublin, has turned out to be an elaborate hoax.

Traffic restrictions were put in place in the area while army ordnance experts dealt with the device yesterday morning.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

City pipebomb attack linked to drugs gang

City pipebomb attack linked to drugs gang

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Wednesday April 16 2008

GARDAI believe a drug trafficking gang was responsible for planting a pipebomb, packed with nails, underneath a car in the driveway of a Dublin suburban house.

The device, which was contained in a Pringles crisps box, was attached to the rear wheel of the car outside a house at Broombridge Road, Cabra.

Detectives think the attack may have been part of a dispute with a man, who is no longer living in the area.

They suspect the feud could be connected to a garda operation, which resulted in the seizure of heroin and a gun from a gang member.

Gardai said last night that at the moment, there was no evidence to suggest the Cabra attack was linked to another explosive device planted in Braithwaite Street in the south inner city last month, although Pringles boxes were used in both cases.

The Cabra device was described as more sophisticated and the box contained explosives, a battery and a timer as well as a large batch of nails and possibly some other shrapnel.

"It was a viable device and ready to go. It was a highly dangerous pipebomb that was designed to inflict a large degree of damage, if it exploded", one investigator said.

Last night gardai were trying to identify two men who were seen running away from the house at the time that the device had been attached to the car.

The alarm was raised by a local woman around 10.40pm on Monday. She told the garda communications centre about a suspicious device underneath the parked car and patrols who were sent to the scene, immediately evacuated nearby houses, closed the road to traffic and requested an army bomb disposal unit.

An Army team was sent out from Cathal Brugha barracks and carried out a controlled explosion. The residents were allowed back into their homes at 1.30am yesterday and the road was re-opened.

The remnants of the device were taken to the military barracks for further tests while gardai carried out a technical examination of the car and other items found at the scene.

The incident in Braithwaite Street is thought to have been part of a local dispute involving a former INLA leader, who is now involved full-time in criminality and has been in conflict with a number of other crime factions in the city.

A special team of detectives, set up last year by Commissioner Fachtna Murphy to examine the spate of explosive devices being used by gangs, is assisting in the two investigations.

The team is trying to establish any links between the attacks and to identify the manufacturers and those responsible for supplying either the devices or the expertise involved in making them.

Garda and army officers believe former paramilitaries have been hiring out their explosives experience to the gangs.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Sunday, 13 April 2008

City centre shooting part of gang feud

Sunday Tribune

Mick McCaffrey
GARDAI say the intended victim of a drive-by shooting in which the wrong house was targeted was a senior member of the drug gang controlled by "Fat" Freddie Thompson.

Sean McDermott and his daughter were sitting in the living room of their home in Portland Row in Dublin one week ago when eight shots were fired through the window.

The rounds, which were fired by a gunman travelling in a passing car, narrowly missed the pair. Gardai say the real target was a man in his 20s who had been in a nearby house minutes before.

The man had been involved in an incident six weeks ago, as revealed in the Sunday Tribune, in which he inflicted a bad beating on another member of the Thompson gang.

The victim of the beating . . . a close associate of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch . . . was stripped and beaten in the toilet of a city centre hotel. He was later arrested after kicking in the window of a taxi which stopped to pick him up. He is regarded as a serious criminal and is believed to have been behind at least one gangland murder.

Following his public humiliation he swore he would murder both Freddie Thompson and his attacker, the intended victim of last week's shooting. The drug gang had been meeting to discuss the implications of the murder of one of their friends, Paddy Doyle, in Spain the previous week.

Gardai suspect Hutch's friend, or one of his associates, saw the gang member in Portland Row last Sunday and armed themselves with a shotgun. It is suspected the gunman had been drinking in a pub before the attack. They didn't determine which house their target was in and discharged the weapon at the wrong house.

Gardai say the McDermotts could easily have been killed or seriously injured during the incident. They are worried at what is being viewed as a serious escalation in the feud that has ripped Thompson's gang apart.

Thompson has been described as a "dead man walking" after both the criminal involved in these latest attacks and the INLA took out contracts on his life.

The 27-year-old is also in danger from a rival drugs gang, based in Drimnagh, with which he has been involved in a longrunning bloody feud.

Eleven people have now died as part of the dispute.
April 13, 2008

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Sunday Tribune
Viper Foley back in training at gym where he was shot
Mick McCaffrey, Security Editor
NOTORIOUS criminal Martin Foley is back training in the same gymnasium where he was shot four times just nine weeks ago.

Sources say that 55-year-old Foley . . . nicknamed 'The Viper' . . .has returned to the Carlisle Health and Fitness Club in Kimmage, Dublin, and is back lifting weights and carrying out a full exercise regime.

Foley was shot by a lone gunman as he drove out of the gym in late January. It is thought that the would-be assassin had the criminal under surveillance and knew that he worked out at least four times a week.

Foley spent over a week in a medically-induced coma and was released from hospital six weeks ago. His doctors advised him to rest for at least three months but he has staged an amazing recovery and has been seen back at the gym over the past week.

Amazed gym members have reported seeing Foley swimming and bench-pressing heavy weights, and say he does not seem to be overly nervous about his personal safety, coming and going by himself and without any "minders". Foley has told detectives that he is starting to feel like his old self but is restricting his workouts to three times a week for the moment.

Gardai have been in regular contact with him since the shooting incident outside the gym, owned by former retail tycoon Ben Dunne. He was leaving Carlisle at around 3pm on 26 January last when he was approached by a masked man who was carrying a semi-automatic pistol.

The gunman fired nine shots at Foley. Three struck him in the lower chest and one grazed his head. Sources say it was a "miracle" that he survived.

Foley told gardai at the scene that he was going to die but he managed to tell officers the name of the man who shot him before he was taken away by ambulance.

The suspect is 23 years old and from Clanbrassil Street in the south inner-city. He is a member of the gang controlled by Drimnagh drug dealer 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.

However, gardai investigating the shooting say they are unsure if the man Foley identified actually was responsible.

Sources say that Thompson and Foley have a good relationship and there was no reason why Thompson would want him dead.

There have been no reprisals since the shooting and it is believed that meetings might have taken place in which a peace deal was ironed out between Foley and representatives of the suspected shooter.

Foley has now been shot on four separate occasions and has at least 14 bullet wounds in his body. January's shooting incident was not the first time he was shot at a gym and swimming pool. In September 2000, Foley was shot in the legs after being approached by two men as he left the pool at Terenure College. One of the gunmen walked over as he lay on the ground and prepared to shoot him in the head, only for the gun to misfire.