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