Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Pals of drugs gang victim live in fear

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Wednesday April 22 2009
PALS of a young man murdered by a Dublin drugs gang have been subject to arson attacks and death threats.
According to locals, a crime gang believed to be behind the murder of Bluebell man Darren Guerrine burnt out the home of one of his friends last weekend as part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation against them.
A number of verbal threats have also been issued to Mr Guerrine's friends, locals said.
The attempts at intimidation were made as gardai continue their investigations into Mr Guerrine's murder.
The 21-year-old was shot dead on the banks of the Grand Canal in Bluebell on February 18, 2008. His body was found on waste ground near the canal.
Officers have made a number of arrests in their investigation, and have interviewed an individual who has links to the Real IRA. No charges have yet been brought.
But officers may now have to investigate claims that an arson attack was carried out at a house in Bluebell last Saturday night, and that this was linked to the murder of Mr Guerrine.
- Cormac Looney

Sunday, 19 April 2009

'At last we can take on the gangs'

'At last we can take on the gangs'
Detectives welcome a new weapon, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's Surveillance Bill which gives gardai sweeping new powers to spy on crime figures and use bugging evidence in court


Sunday April 19 2009

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's new Surveillance Bill has been warmly welcomed by frontline detectives who say it will play havoc with Ireland's organised criminals.

They have also congratulated him on his proposal to hear organised crime cases in the juryless Special Criminal Court and create the offence of membership of a criminal gang.

"Good man, Dermot," one said. "We definitely need this."

Garda surveillance techniques have advanced rapidly in recent years and some of the biggest drugs seizures and the arrests of major criminals in the past two years have stemmed from electronic surveillance of mobile phones.

The highly secret surveillance work leading to arrests has been one of the main reasons behind the paranoia instilled in Dublin gangsters, sparking a spate of tit-for-tat killings because they suspect that gang members have been informing to gardai, according to senior sources.

One of the officers involved said the work being carried out by the gardai is "years and years" ahead of the apparently complicated and highly technical work seen in the American television series, The Wire, based around the surveillance work carried out on a drugs gang by the Baltimore police.

The successes have led to the promotion of two of the youngest superintendents in the history of the force because of their work in identifying and tracking down major criminals. Both have been at the forefront of developing the surveillance techniques from Garda Headquarters.

The Crime and Security Section in the Phoenix Park has also trained up experienced detectives throughout Dublin and around the country and, according to sources, the surveillance work has been playing a part in disrupting the activities of major gangs.

Detectives have been waiting for years for the Government to allow electronic intercepts of criminal conversations to be used in evidence.

The Criminal Justice Surveillance Bill is a highly technical piece of legislation, but is expected to come before the Dail quite quickly and could be in place by the end of the year. Under its terms, Ireland will follow other countries which allow legally enacted electronic intercepts to be admitted as evidence in criminal trials.

Britain started allowing bugged conversations to be used in evidence in recent years, whereas it has been on the statute books in the United States for decades.

The criminals have been taking counter measures to try to prevent surveillance by using multiple mobile phones and UK and continental European SIM cards, but all of these can be breached by surveillance equipment in the possession of the gardai. They can also insert bugs into vehicles or everyday domestic items in houses or premises used by criminals.

There have been massive advances in electronic surveillance since the September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks in the United States. The National Security Agency in the US and other countries, particularly Israel, have spent billions advancing the sophistication of surveillance equipment and techniques.

After 9/11, the US introduced the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act which allows investigators to listen to "real-time" conversations on mobile phones, an ability the gardai now also have.

They also have speech-to-text software which allows computer analysis on the content and locations of calls. They can also remotely activate microphones in mobile phones which allows them to listen to conversations taking place in the audible radius of the phones even if they are turned off.

Until now, gardai have only been allowed to use these techniques and equipment to gather intelligence. However, with the passing of the Surveillance Act they will be able to use the bugged conversations in evidence.

Mr Ahern is also moving on separate proposals, advocated for a number of years by this newspaper, to create a new offence of membership of a crime gang. He is also supportive of the use of the non-jury Special Criminal Court for hearing organised crime cases, also advocated by the Sunday Independent.

This will help overcome the issue of juries being intimidated by the gangs who have been ruthlessly threatening and attacking witnesses as well. In one case last year, 12 witnesses were intimidated and there have been suspicions of jury tampering in several cases in recent years.

Convictions of gang membership may also be secured using evidence gathered using covert surveillance. This would be supported by senior members of the gardai who would take the witness stand and swear under oath that they have reason to believe an accused is a member of a particular crime gang.

If civilian witnesses were available to give evidence, it would strengthen a case. But prosecutions could still be secured without the need for such evidence.

The minister's proposals were welcomed by Fine Gael . Limerick East TD Kieran O'Donnell who called for the legislation to be brought immediately before the Dail.

"This urgent legislation must be debated in the Dail next week, and not at some distant stage in the future," he said. "Innocent lives are being lost every week. The new specific offence of gangland membership must also be introduced immediately.

"I have tabled a Dail Question to Mr Ahern on this matter, with specific reference to combating gangland crime in my constituency of Limerick city. I will be raising this matter in the Dail on Wednesday."

He added: "The people of Limerick are demanding that strong measures are put in place immediately by the Government to combat gang crime and prevent a recurrence of the tragedy that befell Roy Collins."

Launching the bill last week, Mr Ahern said: "With the advent of better and increasingly sophisticated surveillance-gathering technology, and the growing ruthless nature of gangland criminals in particular, the stage has been reached where surveillance evidence can play a crucial role in the fight against crime.

"We live in a modern world and if covert recordings will help nail crime gang bosses then we must advance this new law as quickly as feasible."


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Safe house for boy sent a bullet in post by Fat Freddie gang

Irish Herald

By Ian Mallon
Wednesday April 15 2009
A boy was sent a bullet in the post after a botched drug deal for Freddie Thompson’s gang.
The 14-year-old is said to be in “grave” danger after making a mistake on a drugs courier mission for the Dublin gang.
An envelope containing a bullet was among anumber of warnings sent to the schoolboy's family.
The teenager, from the South Circular Road area, is currently under 24-hour house arrest away from the family home for his own safety.
Efforts are being made to get him a residential home outside Dublin.
Dublin Children's Court heard that gardai are "aware of the serious threat he is under". A social worker said he had written to the council appealing for the family to be relocated.
He had been "hounding the council" and had explained to them why the request to re-house them was being made.
The council had been notified that the problem "was with individuals in the area threatening him and his family and putting them at risk".
The boy, who has a string of public order and criminal damage convictions, is understood to have fallen foul of a gangster because of a botched drug courier mission. The young boy had pleaded guilty earlier to Public Order Act charges.
In January when he was given bail the court heard that the boy's safety at his home address was an issue.
As a result, the bail conditions were imposed compelling him to reside at a temporary home and to stay there 24 hours a day for his own safety. An exception was granted allowing him out of the house only when he was in the company of a responsible adult. 
The court also heard that the boy was agreeable to taking up the care placement in the unit outside of Dublin.
An assessment report furnished to the court earlier by the National Remand and Assessment Centre, a detention unit, in Finglas, in Dublin had stated that "there are very grave concerns about him returning to his family home".
Defence solicitor Gareth Noble said a decision would be made in the coming weeks as to whether the teen would be accepted in to the residential centre.
Judge Ann Ryan remanded the boy to appear again in May pending the decision. The bail set down in January, with the conditions restricting the boy's movement, was continued.
The case appeared before the courts on the same week that crime boss 'Fat' Freddie Thompson turned up at the city's children's court to offer protection for a teenager facing a murder charge.
He accused gardai of not protecting the 17-year-old after an attempt was made to stab him last week. The Crumlin crime boss turned up at the Dublin Children's Court on Tuesday to offer "protection" to him.
The incident has increased garda concerns that gang bosses are targeting troubled kids in the juvenile courts system and grooming them for careers in crime.
- Ian Mallon

Friday, 10 April 2009

Gangster made 'alibi call'

Irish herald

Friday April 10 2009
A veteran criminal has put himself under the garda spotlight after contacting them as a businessman was reporting he had been threatened at gunpoint.
Investigating officers believe the ageing Dubliner was giving himself an alibi as he would have been immediately put on their list of suspects.
The incident happened in Arklow town on Tuesday night when a man was roughed up by four thugs who described themselves as debt collectors.
The businessman alleged by them to owe up to €100,000 was threatened with a gun being put to his head.
The victim was not badly injured and did not require medical treatment. However the incident is understood to have been staged in order to frighten the victim and others allegedly in debt.
The suspected gang leader has a reputation for using strong-arm tactics and has been targeted several times by rival gangsters.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Number one with a bullet

Sunday Tribune

It has been a worryingly prolific year so far for gang murders, with a single figure in particular looming large in the chaos
Mick McCaffrey and Ali Bracken
1 2 3 4 The same number of people have lost their lives in the first 14 weeks of the year as a result of gangland murders as in the whole of 2008. Ten people have now died in gangland executions so far in 2009, and the all-time high of 19 killings which occurred in 2006 is likely to be exceeded by the end of the summer if the trend continues.
In 1997, there were just two gang murders in Ireland, and the number has steadily increased since then.
The figure only began to fall in 2007, when the garda commissioner launched Operation Anvil, which flooded murder blackspots in Dublin with armed uniformed patrols harassing known criminals.
The operation brought immediate success. There were 12 murders in 2007 compared to 19 the year before.
When Operation Anvil was extended nationwide last year, the number of murders continued to drop, resulting in a total of 10, which was the lowest figure since 2004.
However, since late last year, Operation Anvil has all but ended because of garda overtime bans and other enforced budget cutbacks.
Garda management and politicians say that Anvil is ongoing – but it is now manned by ordinary uniformed officers as part of their everyday duties rather than specialist plainclothes officers who know who the criminals are.
The upshot of this is that an average of one gangland murder has been committed every week, contributing to an overall total of 13 murders so far this year.
Last week's announcement that garda promotions have been shelved for the foreseeable future will only add to the number of senior officers leaving the force and there seems little doubt that, despite the best efforts of gardaí, the murder rate will continue to rise.
Five of the 10 gangland killings this year have been ordered by a man from Finglas in his mid-30s known as 'Mr Big'. The criminal is totally paranoid and even had his best friends murdered over the slightest rumour of disloyalty. Sources say there is little doubt that Mr Big will murder again before the year is out.
Here, the Sunday Tribune looks at the murders that have occurred so far this year and, having spoken to senior investigators involved in them, examines the likelihood that they will be solved.
1&2 On 7 January drug dealer Michael 'Roly' Cronin (35) and his
26-year-old driver James Maloney were shot dead in a car in Summerhill in Dublin's
north inner city. A 32-year-old man from Finglas, nicknamed 'Mr Big', ordered Cronin's murder because he was trying to establish more territory for himself in north Dublin. Moloney was not a target but was
murdered because he was there. Gardaí know who was responsible for the murder and have phone records and witness statements implicating him. The 36-year old suspect was spirited out of the country to Spain following the murder. Just days later, Mr Big's gang murdered him to prevent him from talking and gardaí believe his body has been buried.
Likelihood of prosecution: Solved on paper but no court proceedings will ever arise.
3 On 19 January, Stephen O'Halloran was shot five times while sitting in a car in the driveway of his house on Kilmartin Drive in Tallaght. Two of his friends also suffered minor gunshot wounds during the incident. The 20-year old was a low-level criminal with a propensity for violence and terrorising local people. He had a number of enemies but gardaí believe they have identified a motive.
Likelihood of prosecution: Possible.
4On 20 January, Graham McNally, who was a close lieutenant of Mr Big, was found dead after being shot in the head off the Old Derry Road near Finglas. He was murdered by his boss over a vague suspicion that 35-year-old McNally had plotted to have Mr Big shot dead.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly unlikely.
5 Thirty-six-year-old Michael Hendrick was shot dead at Melrose Park in
Clondalkin as he sat in a car. Hendrick was a drug dealer employed by a gang led by a Clondalkin man serving a sentence for manslaughter and a criminal from Co Kildare. Gardaí believe Hendrick was murdered after being blamed for a drugs shipment that officers uncovered and confiscated.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly unlikely.
6'Champagne' John Carroll was shot dead on 18 February while drinking in a pub in the Coombe, Dublin 8. Mr Big – who wants to extend his drug-dealing dominance into the south inner city – was again the man behind it. The getaway driver has turned state's witness and has named the murderer as well as the role Mr Big played in the slaying. Charges should follow in the coming months.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly likely.
7On 3 March, 41-year-old Michael Murray was shot dead while out walking near his home in Kippure Park in Finglas. Murray was a suspected hitman who had fallen out with the prolific Mr Big. Accordingly, he ended up dead. The gun used in a murder attempt on Murray last summer was also used in the double murder of Roly Cronin and James Maloney.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly unlikely.
8On 12 March, 27-year-old Shay O'Byrne was shot dead outside his home at Tymon North Park in Tallaght. His partner, Sharon Rattigan, tackled the gunman, scratched his face and was shot in the leg. In the struggle, the gunman dropped his mobile phone. He was later arrested with a scratched face and if DNA taken from Sharon Rattigan's fingernails is confirmed as being his, he will be charged with the murder. This should happen over the next few weeks.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly likely.
9Although the body of Liam 'Blackie' Murray was discovered on 20 March, it is likely that he was shot dead on St Patrick's Day. He was murdered while he slept in the bedroom of his cottage at the Rockbrook Road in Rathfarnham. The 42-year-old mechanic was a 'wheeler-dealer' who associated with serious criminals involved in the drugs trade and car rackets. Detectives are probing a land deal with a former IRA man that went wrong but do not definitively know why he was killed. The lack of witnesses will make a prosecution extremely difficult.
Likelihood of prosecution: Highly unlikely.
10The body of drug dealer David 'Fred' Lynch was discovered on wasteland near Belcamp Lane in Coolock last Monday. The 26-year old was shot four times in the head. His gang had been involved in a violent dispute with a rival criminal outfit and there have been several shootings connected to the feud in recent months. Several theories are currently being investigated – it is most likely that the rival gang executed him, although gardaí believe he could have been killed by somebody he knew and trusted.
Likelihood of prosecution: Unlikely.
April 5, 2009

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Lynch shot by hitman pal in double cross

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Thursday April 02 2009
Murdered criminal David 'Fred' Lynch was double-crossed by an associate, who carried out a shooting for Lynch's gang last year.
The 26-year-old drug dealer was gunned down after arranging to meet his pal, a gangland hitman, at wasteground in Darndale on Sunday, gardai believe.
Officers suspect that Lynch received a phone call at a hotel where he was staying early on Sunday, asking him to meet at Belcamp Lane to plan a further attack on a rival gang in the increasingly violent Darndale drugs feud.
But it is thought that when Lynch turned up, his associate pulled a gun and shot him four times in the head.
The suspected hitman (24) remains in custody today, held under new gangland legislation which allows detectives to quiz suspects for a week. Gardai may go to Dublin District Court today to apply to extend him beyond the initial 48 hours.
The man's girlfriend (22) also remains in custody. She is not suspected of having a direct role in Lynch's murder, but she is being questioned on suspicion of withholding information. The pair were arrested at a city centre hotel early Tuesday morning.
The man was also detained for another murder attempt last year -- arranged by Lynch's own gang. He was arrested by gardai last summer over the attack, related to the ongoing feud between two Darndale-based criminal gangs.
The man's girlfriend was also arrested last summer over that attack. While the man is suspected of direct involvement in the attacks, she was questioned about withholding information about the crimes.
Gardai believe that the 24-year-old, who they regard as a gun for hire, has worked for both sides in the Darndale drugs feud. The shooting last year, in which a man was shot and injured in broad daylight in front of his young child, is believed to have been ordered by associates of Lynch.
Lynch was not in Dublin at the time of that attack.

Four gang members dead in bloody fight for control

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Thursday April 02 2009
THE grisly murder of Dublin criminal Keith Ennis in Holland is the latest death caused by the implosion of a major west Dublin crime gang.
The gang -- led by a jailed criminal who is serving a sentence for killing another man -- has emerged as one of the main drug supply outfits in the State over the past five years. Gardai believe it controls the supply of drugs to large swathes of south and west Dublin.
But the imprisonment of the gang leader has led to increased tensions in the outfit, sources say, as mid-ranking members jostle for control.
The gang's main criminal connection is a Co Kildare-based businessman who has links to a number of crime gangs across Dublin. Another key gang member is believed to be notorious underworld figure Mark Desmond, known as 'The Guinea Pig'.
Four members of the gang have now died violently over the past three or so years, culminating in the murder and dismemberment of Keith Ennis in Holland. His body was discovered in February and was officially identified only last week.
Gardai believe that members of the gang may have sanctioned, or have directly carried out, all four murders.
The first internal murder attributed to the gang occurred in November 2005, when small-scale addict and drug dealer Owen McCarthy (27) was lured to the Wicklow Gap and shot dead. McCarthy, who was on crutches at the time, was made to run and crawl for his life before being shot on a deserted laneway.
Four months later, in March 2006, the next member of the gang was murdered. Shay Bradley (28) was shot dead in a laneway at Blackhorse Avenue on Dublin's northside. Gardai believe that Bradley may have been murdered because of his role as getaway driver in an earlier attempt on Owen McCarthy's life at a Dublin pub.
That attack led to the wounding of an innocent man. The gang suspected that Bradley was co-operating with gardai and decided to remove him, sources said. But gardai later said that Bradley was not an informer.
Following the first two murders the gang boss consolidated control of his outfit, but as he served a jail sentence for manslaughter he found it more difficult to control members of his gang on the outside.
This led to the third internal murder in the feud, that of minor criminal Michael Hendrick (36), who was gunned down in his car at Melrose Park in Clondalkin last month. Gardai believe Hendrick, who had recently been released from prison after serving a drug sentence, was blamed by the gang for the loss of a shipment of drugs.
The fourth killing attributed to the gang was that of Keith Ennis (28), who was murdered, dismembered and had his body dumped in an Amsterdam canal last month. Although Dutch police are keeping an open mind on the murder, Mr Ennis was forced to leave Dublin after being threatened by former associates in his drug gang. Again, he was blamed for the loss of drugs.
- Cormac Looney

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Couple quizzed on Lynch murder have no links to gangland feud - gardai

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Wednesday April 01 2009
A MAN and woman without gangland connections are being quizzed over the murder of Dublin criminal David 'Fred' Lynch.
The pair, aged in their mid 20s, were arrested by armed gardai from the Emergency Response Unit at a hotel in the north inner city yesterday morning.
They are being held under recently enacted legislation, which allows gardai to quiz them for up to seven days -- instead of the usual 48 hours.
The law, section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007, gives detectives a week to quiz suspects in a murder where a firearm has been used. It's the first time the law has been used in relation to a Dublin gun murder.
Drug dealer Lynch (26) was shot dead last Sunday, and his body found at 4pm on Monday afternoon on wasteground at Belcamp Lane, Coolock. He had four bullet wounds to the head.
Gardai received information early yesterday morning which led them to the man and woman, who were detained at 4am. The pair are not connected to a rival Coolock-Darndale gang with whom Mr Lynch and his associates were feuding. Sources say that neither has known connections to north Dublin crime gangs.
Officers are now examining whether the murder may have a personal motive, aside from their initial suspicions that it was a tit-for-tat gang attack. They are also examining if the man and woman were brought in because they were 'under the radar' and would not crop up immediately as suspects.
A source told the Herald: "Neither of these people are known for connections either to Lynch himself or to any Dublin crime gangs. It's thrown the investigation open and we're looking at a new motive, possibly something personal, for the attack."
The pair were being questioned last night at Coolock and Santry garda stations.
The initial motive for Lynch's shooting was that it was carried out in revenge for a shooting attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. The man received leg injuries after peace talks set up by Lynch between his gang and rival outfit ended in a row. He is expected to recover from his injuries.
Lynch was well known to gardai and had previously been shot at the Towers pub in Ballymun in 2006. He lost a kidney as a result of that attack, and sustained serious facial injuries.
He was also the chief suspect for the shooting of a man in Kinsealy last January. The man had a lucky escape after a gunman broke into his home and fired at him through a door. A child (2) and two women were in the house at the time of the shooting.
- Cormac Looney