Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Over 1,000 gang related incidents in just ONE year

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Wednesday June 24 2009
Almost 1,100 gangland-related incidents have been recorded by gardai in one part of Finglas over the past 12 months.
Officers in Finglas South running Operation Archer have carried out 509 searches since the anti-gang initiative was set up last August, and have dealt with 1,049 criminal incidents.
The scale of the figures is significant because Operation Archer does not include crime based in Finglas West -- regarded as one of the country's busiest gangland areas and scene of a number of violent incidents, including murders, to date this year.
Instead, it has targeted organised crime in the Finglas South area, where officers have been deployed undercover in many cases to investigate drug dealing and other serious crime. The initiative has also recorded 259 traffic-related incidents.
The area has been in the headlines in recent weeks, following the murder of a man at Kippure Park 12 days ago. Maurice Martin (21), who was originally from Finglas but lived in Navan, was knifed to death after a drinking session in the area.
Four people arrested over the killing, three of whom were women in their early 20s, were arrested and questioned over the murder this week. They were later released without charge.
Operation Archer has been led and coordinated by local officers attached to Finglas garda station, who have on occasion been backed up by the Special Detective Unit, the Emergency Response Unit, and the Organised Crime Unit.
Operation Archer was established in late August 2008, around the time of the murder of Finglas South resident Paul 'Farmer' Martin, who was murdered in a gangland killing in the Jolly Toper pub on nearby Church Street, Finglas. A number of associates of Martin, and underworld enemies of his, have been targeted as part of the operation.
A number of significant firearms and drugs seizures have been made by officers attached to the operation over the past 10 months since its inception.
Officers working on the operation have also carried out follow-up searches in other areas of north Co Dublin and in county Meath, yielding captures of sawn-off shotguns, handguns, drugs and even crossbows.
- Cormac Looney

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Youths now dominate gangland bloodshed

Youths now dominate gangland bloodshed
Gangs regard petty feuds and rows over cash as just cause for murder


Sunday June 21 2009

HE was only 20 when he was gunned down in a hail of bullets last Wednesday night. But Thomas "Tommy" Joyce was already three years into a drug-dealing career, reeled in by the ready cash which he spent on flash cars and expensive jewellery.

If anything, the brutal murder illustrated how gangland violence is now dominated by young men barely out of their teens. As gardai investigate the motive for the 16th gangland slaying of 2009, the growing suspicion is that Joyce was murdered in revenge for another murder earlier this year.

But the motives for tit-for-tat drug slayings among criminal factions increasingly dominated by 20- and 21-year-olds are often impossible to decipher, with petty feuds and rows over cash often regarded as just cause for murder.

"The scene has changed. Ten years ago criminal gangs were only coming into their prime in their 40s. Now they have made it to the top at 20 and are getting ready to be blown away," said one experienced officer.

Thomas Joyce was barely out of puberty when he was drawn into the world of drug dealing. He lived most of his life on a halting site on Grove Lane in Coolock, on the north side of Dublin, where his family are decent churchgoers in the local parish of Ayrefield.

The local priest, Fr Tom Colreavy, who was on hand to comfort his devastated family last week, said he knew the Joyce family very well.

"I'm absolutely shocked. This is another cruel, sudden death. It's terrible," he said.

The priest said he did not personally know Tommy Joyce. According to garda sources, he was 16 or 17 when he first came to their attention as a peddler of cocaine and other drugs around the streets of Darndale and Coolock.

His temperament marked him out from others in the same game. He was flash, he had a temper and was volatile, according to one detective. But for most of his short career he operated under the eye of an older associate, who was also a member of the Travelling community.

This associate was involved in drugs, trading in larger quantities with some of the bigger gangs on the northside. He tempered Joyce's excesses, according to the garda source.

Tommy Joyce had many enemies. He was known to retaliate violently to perceived insults. At one point he was suspected of throwing a pipe bomb through a window of another associate in revenge for some slight or other.

As with all drug gangs, violence dogged them. Joyce's associate was shot but miraculously survived, even though the spent shells scattered around the crime scene were evidence of the hail of bullets fired on him.

The attentions of gardai seemed not to dent their operations. The gang was raided on a number of occasions since 2007. During one raid, detectives found a cocaine mixing plant with quantities of the drug valued at €1.5m, mixing agent, weighing scales and blenders. During another, they found cocaine valued at €75,000 and ammunition.

By the time he was 18, Joyce was a key player in the operation and raking in the cash. Unlike his associate -- who is believed to have invested cash in foreign property -- Joyce flaunted his wealth.

He was just 19 when he paid €70,000 in cash as a part-payment for a Range Rover sports model.

He also bought a BMW car. He took out four separate motor insurance policies, insuring nine separate vehicles in cash.

Given his extravagance, it was inevitable the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) should catch up with him.

In February 2008, officers from CAB and a batallion of gardai raided the halting site on Grove Lane, just off the Malahide Road in Coolock. They found cocaine valued at €3,000 and one spent and one unused shotgun cartridge. The prized Range Rover and BMW were seized.

When the CAB went to the High Court in January to seek permission to sell the cars, Tommy Joyce was publicly named as a member of the drug trafficking gang named in court as the Joyce brothers.

He was their youngest ever target. Chief Superintendent John O'Mahony told the court how Tommy Joyce and his gang continued to operate, despite a series of drug seizures by gardai.

He said they distributed drugs, mainly cocaine, and made substantial profits. Joyce had no employment record, nor did he have any visible income, the court heard. The money he used to buy the top-of-the-range cars came from his criminal activities.

Joyce lost the cars but continued running the business. His older associate was by then in prison. In his absence, Tommy assumed control.

According to one detective, Joyce's associate was able to control his mood swings and instability. But with his associate behind bars, Joyce's temper went unchecked. Long-standing allegiances in the crime world were broken and relationships soured.

He had fallen out with a gang based in Dublin's Sheriff Street, according to detectives. He had alienated many of his associate's former allies. When another rival, John B Clarke, was murdered in Artane in May, the rumour was that Joyce may have had something to do with it.

Like Joyce, Clarke had graduated into the drug trade at a young age. He was 21, with a string of convictions for drug offences and a burgeoning heroin operation under his control. A native of Darndale, Clarke had been embroiled in tit-for- tat rows with rival gangs in the area. He was shot in the knees in March, but survived.

Just two months later, Clarke was fatally gunned down as he left an underground car park in Artane with two friends.

The word on the criminal grapevine was that Joyce had supplied the gun used in the shooting. There was speculation that Joyce may have fallen out with Clarke over money. Gardai investigated the allegation, but could find no evidence to support it.

"When relations are fractured and difficult, it's difficult to get a handle on what the factors behind [a murder] are," said one detective.

At 7.30pm on Wednesday, Joyce was standing at the entrance to the halting site on Grove Road chatting to another man. A blue Ford Focus drove alongside him. Several men pointed handguns from the car and started firing at Joyce.

Joyce started to run, but five bullets struck his head and back. He was pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital at 9pm.

Gardai investigating the shooting have recovered the car they believe was used in the attack. A blue Ford Focus estate was found burnt out nearby. The registration matches the number plates witnesses identified on the gunmen's car.

Officially, gardai say they are keeping an open mind on the motives for Joyce's murder, as they peel back the layers of feuds and rows that dominated his short life. But it's highly likely that detectives will want to interview some of Clarke's associates. Like Joyce, some of them are barely out of their teens.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

20-year-old man shot dead in Dublin gangland attack

Irish Herald

Thursday June 18 2009
Gardai are trying to establish a motive for the murder of a 20-year-old man in a gangland-style shooting in north Dublin last night.
The man was shot dead outside his home at the Grove Lane halting site near Darndale at around 7.30pm.
He was talking with another man when a car pulled up and one of the occupants opened fire on.
He tried to flee, but was shot a number of times in the head and upper body and died a short time later at Beaumont Hospital.
A car believed to have been used by the gunman was found abandoned around a kilometre from the murder scene in Balgriffin.
The victim, who has been named locally as Thomas Joyce, was reportedly one of the youngest criminals ever targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Reports this morning say the High Court heard in January that he was part of a major cocaine gang in Coolock.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

No sign of gangland fugitive Fatso Mitchell as his father is buried

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Wednesday June 17 2009
Fugitive criminal Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell was nowhere to be seen at his father's funeral in Dublin's north inner city.
A large gathering attended the memorial service for Summerhill street trader Joe Mitchell, who died at the Mater Hospital last week, but it was unclear if his son was present.
‘Fatso' Mitchell (40) has lived in exile in Spain since departing Ireland 13 years ago in the wake of the murder of reporter Veronica Guerin.
He was a key figure in the drug gang led by John Gilligan, and narrowly survived a shooting at a bar in Puerto Banus last summer.
Mitchell was hit in the shoulder by a gunman who opened fire on him as he sat drinking with pals at cafe terrace. Two other men were wounded. All three made a full recovery.
Joe Mitchell was a popular local figure and was not involved in crime. He regularly visited his son in Spain in recent years. His funeral took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sean McDermott Street in the north inner city yesterday morning. 'Fatso' Mitchell faces arrest if he returns to Ireland, because of his outstanding status here as a drug trafficker and member of an organised crime gang.
He owns a villa and has run a bar in Puerto Banus during his time in Spain, and is suspected of involvement in organised crime on the Costa del Sol. He has associated with a number of Irish criminals in Spain and gardai liaise with Interpol regularly about his activities .
- Cormac Looney

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Shot dead for getting too close to scene of planned gang murder

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Tuesday June 16 2009
GANGLAND victim Paul Smyth may have been shot dead because he was spotted close to the scene of a planned gun attack on a Dublin crime boss.
Smyth (34), whose body was found in a field at Ballough, Balbriggan, was spotted close to Ratoath Road in Finglas in January in a car with another man, minutes before gardai arrested two men in a second vehicle.
It is suspected that the two other men were en route to shoot up a house used by the Finglas-based crime boss.
They were both arrested after Finglas gardai pursued them and searched their vehicle.
Gardai investigated reports that Smyth was linked to the planned gun attack, along with the other man, on the basis that he was sighted in the area.
The crime boss and his associate Graham McNally were set to attend a face-to-face meeting in the area.
It is understood. Gardai believe their intervention prevented a gun attack on the two men. McNally was shot dead a week later, with his body found in a North Dublin laneway.
Gardai also believe that reports of Smyth's presence in the area may have led to him being targeted last week, despite the fact that he was not arrested on the night.
The Finglas boss has emerged as one of the most dangerous criminals in Dublin since he took control of the gang led by slain criminal Martin Marlo Hyland, who was shot dead in 2006. He is reported to be involved in at least five murders this year.
Officers believe Smyth may have been lured to his death on the pretense of a meeting in the Ballough area of Balbriggan. He kept horses in a field there, and was known to meet with associates in the area.
He was shot twice in the head and his body partially concealed in a field there, where it was discovered on Friday. His funeral is likely to take place this week.
- Cormac Looney

Friday, 5 June 2009

Rival gangs returning to bomb tactics

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Friday June 05 2009
Dublin crime gangs have resumed using the 'bomb scare' tactic as a warning against their rivals in the city.
Two suspect devices have been planted in the past week on the city's Northside and the Southside.
No one was injured in either bomb-scare incident, but the use of the tactic and the growing expertise of some gangs has increased concerns about serious injury being inflicted.
The incidents, which took place in Crumlin and Donny-carney, are not related. Gardai believe one of the incidents is linked to a recent murder and the other to a lengthy, on-going drug war.
In the Crumlin incident, a device was left under a car in the Stanaway Road area.
The vehicle is owned by the mother of a man, with drug convictions dating back several years, who is still regarded as a major figure in the drug trade.
Other members of his family were publicly named by the then Concerned Parents Against Drugs during that organisation's street protests.
He has moved out of the Crumlin area, but the gangs persist with the targeting of both immediate families and relatives of those directly involved as a means of issuing their threats.
The other incident on the Northside is linked to one of the most recent murders in the city, according to local sources.
Gangland figure John "BJ" Clarke (21) was shot more than six times with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in an underground car park at an apartment complex in Artane.
He and two friends were ambushed at Brookwood Grove, at 3am on May 7.
Up to 15 shots were fired into Clarke's car and the other two men were slightly injured.
There have been several gangland-related shooting incidents on the Northside this year, one involving the murder of David "Fred" Lynch in Coolock in March.
Earlier this year, a suspect device was planted at a community centre in Dolphin's Barn while residents were discussing anti-social and criminal behaviour in the area. It, too, was a hoax.
- Cormac Looney

Monday, 1 June 2009

Life for gangland bosses in crime crackdown

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Wednesday July 01 2009
Criminals will face life imprisonment for directing a gang under a new law -- to come into force by the end of the month.
The Criminal Justice Bill 2009 will allow any garda with the relevant experience to give evidence to the juryless Special Criminal Court about the activities of gangland criminals.
It will also introduce a series of penalties for specific offenses, including up to 10 years imprisonment for intimidating witnesses and up to 15 years for being a lower-ranking 'footsoldier' in a criminal outfit.
The measures -- the furthest-reaching anti-gang laws ever enacted in Ireland -- are expected to be passed by the Oireachtas on Friday week, and are likely to be signed into law by the end of July. They can then be used immediately against gangland criminals.
Under the proposed law, gangland criminals will be tried in the juryless Special Criminal Court, and will find it harder to get bail.
Courts will also be able to draw inferences from suspects' failure to answer questions relating to serious crime while in garda custody, and suspects can be detained for up to seven days.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern described the legislation as "groundbreaking". He said: "Clearly these people are prepared to murder people who will give evidence against them. There is witness and jury intimidation. The Government had to act."
The Irish Council of Civil Liberties has criticised the bill, which a council spokesman said "trampled on the rule of law" and was "reminiscent of a police state". The Labour party has also criticised the use of juryless trials.
- Cormac Looney