Thursday, 23 September 2010

PJ Browne: Thompson must go behind bars -- or this will continue

Irish Herald
PJ Browne: Thompson must go behind bars -- or this will continue

By PJ Browne

Thursday September 23 2010

THE seizure of four Ingram machine pistols in west Dublin last night has undoubtedly saved lives.

I have no doubt that associates of Freddie Thompson were intent on using these weapons in the near future, most likely on the built-up streets of Dublin's south city.

Given the recklessness of Dublin's gunmen there would have been serious risk of injury, or worse, to innocent members of the public had they been deployed in this manner.

In fact, given that most Dublin criminals would be simply unable to control the rate of fire of an Ingram, there would have been carnage.

Although the Crumlin feud appears to have calmed somewhat, the gangs may have stepped back, but they certainly have not gone away.

For the best part of a decade these gangsters murdered each other in tit-for-tat killings, and there remains a lot of aggrieved criminals in the Crumlin, Drimnagh and the south inner city who would take revenge given half a chance.

Add this motive for vengeance to the battle for dwindling revenues from the recession-hit drug trade and you have a toxic, and bloody, combination. Tension in the area at times remains palpable.

Of course, Freddie could also have been tooling up to take on the Republican racketeers who are now imposing a 'crime tax' on the drugs gangs.

Freddie is supposed to be short of cash and would have fought to the death rather than hand money over to the Real IRA and INLA racketeers trying to control the pub door and drugs business.

The seizure of the Mulhuddart firearms and ammunition is to be expected. While I was chief of detectives in the south inner city, my colleagues received intelligence that Thompson's crew planned to import machine pistols and grenades.

This weaponry was to be used to take out a rival gang in a bar or other open public space. I have no doubt these Ingrams were to be deployed in a similar plot.

Hanging over all of this remains the figure of 'Fat' Freddie. Despite the attentions of many specialised units in different countries, my former colleagues are the ones who have taken the fight to the Thompson gang in Ireland. I congratulate them on this seizure.

Thompson has been on the run for months, and is subject of an European Arrest Warrant. Despite the fact that gardai have seized his weapons and his rockets, police forces across Europe -- where 'Fat' Freddie is at large -- appear unable to capture him.

When his rival gang boss was hit with a major conviction, tensions calmed considerably in the south city. I have no doubt that placing Thompson in custody would have a similar effect.

Until then, we can expect more seizures like that in Mulhuddart.

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent who was chief of detectives at Pearse Street, Kevin Street and Kilmainham garda stations

- PJ Browne

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Mastermind behind The Don and Marlo

Irish Herald

By Cormac Byrne

Tuesday September 14 2010

CRIMINAL mastermind Eamonn Kelly is lucky to be alive and has amassed serious enemies through his associations with The Don and Marlo Hyland.

Kelly chased a lone gunman from his home in Killester on Saturday morning after the gun jammed during an assassination attempt.

Godfather Kelly (61) is believed to be the mastermind behind the rise of Dublin's most notorious criminals.

Gardai are currently trying to build a case against the elusive Kelly for allegedly organising the intimidation of two Dublin individuals at the behest of two builders.

Detectives understand that serious threats were made against a number of individuals and in one instance a car was torched.

In recent weeks Kelly was lifted by officers from the Organised Crime Unit (OCU), along with a 77-year-old former member of the Provisional IRA and a 28-year-old thug.

He was one of the first men in Irish history to be convicted of attempting to import cocaine into the country.

Kelly has remained a close associate of Eamonn Dunne's notorious Finglas drug gang, which was also headed by Marlo Hyland in recent years.

Both Hyland and Eamonn Dunne were assassinated in brutal gangland killings, in 2006 and April this year respectively.

From Furry Park Road in Killester, north Dublin, met with Eamonn Dunne regularly in the years up to his death in pubs and restaurants across Dublin.

"Both men had a mutual respect for each other and Kelly would have acted as tutor for Dunne," a source said.

"Kelly would know every major criminal figure on Dublin's northside."

The gangster was also responsible for grooming young Dublin criminals including Marlo Hyland (39).


Hyland was one of the biggest drug dealers in the country and was involved in drug-trafficking and gun-smuggling.

He was the target of garda's Operation Oak and investigating gardai had arrested 30 associates and seized over €15m worth of drugs before his murder.

Hyland was murdered in 2006 as he slept in the home of a relative in Finglas.

As a popular and clever figure in the city's underworld, Kelly is believed to have curried favour with most of Dublin's major crime gangs.

But despite his popularity, gardai have told Kelly that a threat had been made against his life by a Dublin gang, and advised him to re-examine his personal security.

The father of nine cut his teeth as a robber working with the Official IRA in the 1980s. Despite never swearing an oath to the paramilitary group, Kelly worked with the organisation's shadowy Group B unit.

The group specialised in armed robberies of cash and drink deliveries, and was behind some of the biggest bank heists of the decade.

In 1988, he was jailed for three years for an assault on a member of the Worker's Party outside a club near the party's headquarters in Gardiner Place, Dublin.

In the early 1990s, Kelly became one of Ireland's first criminals to be jailed for bringing a major consignment of cocaine into the country.

In May 1993, he was sentenced to 14 years behind bars after he was caught with almost a kilogram of cocaine following a garda surveillance operation.

Now, despite his advancing years, Kelly has maintained contact with a number of figures in the criminal underworld.

- Cormac Byrne

Monday, 13 September 2010

Cash seizures on the rise as gangs try to get money out of country

12The €676,000 found in a suitcase in Dublin airport in March 2008.Compartments used to conceal cash in a van seized by customs officers. Cash seizures by Revenue customs officers have increased to record levelsIn this section »
C LALLY, Crime Correspondent
BACKGROUND: The proceeds of drug dealing, fuel and cigarette smuggling form the bulk of money intercepted by customs officials
EUGENE JUDE Murphy came very close to pulling it off. He had secured his boarding pass, checked in his luggage and cleared customs and security at Dublin airport without incident.
There remained only the last hurdle of simply getting on the plane to Portugal before picking up his bags at the other end and getting out of the airport as quickly as he could.
Things seemed to be going away. But a sniffer dog called Storm had other ideas.
Just as Murphy’s bags, and those of his fellow passengers on his Lisbon-bound flight, were about to be lifted on to the plane on the tarmac, a customs officer decided to give Storm one last run over the load.
The dog, which specialises in identifying large quantities of cash by sniffing out the ink on bank notes, quickly focused on one piece of luggage: Murphy’s.
The baggage was plucked from the pile and opened for searching. Customs officers found a false bottom in the case. Into it had been packed bundles of used bank notes, €279,450 to be precise.
When questioned about the haul, Murphy refused to answer any questions as to its origins. Two years later, on April 15th last, Revenue’s customs officers went to the High Court and successfully argued the cash was the proceeds of crime.
They were granted a forfeiture order by Ms Justice Katherine Delahunt and the money was transferred to State coffers.
In the last number of years such cash smuggling cases involving the proceeds of crime have come to light much more frequently.
Many of those caught carrying the money when it is seized are trusted couriers working for large gangs. Others are people who have agreed to do a cash smuggling run for a gang to pay a debt or because they are in fear.
After the initial seizure of the cash, most cases progress to the forfeiture stage in the High Court unopposed by the couriers or those who own the money.
There is now a record number of cases coming before the courts for forfeiture hearings. There were 21 this year so far, relating to €2.2 million in seized cash.
The number of cash seizures by Revenue, mostly at airports and ports, has also increased to record levels; 31 cases to date in 2010 compared with 34 cases in all of last year.
The largest seizure occurred on March 15th, 2008, at Dublin airport. When Irishman Mark Lee was stopped as he was about to catch a flight to Brussels, his suitcase was found to be full of bundles of bank notes and nothing else.
When the haul was counted it came to €676,625. Lee admitted he was delivering the money on behalf of an unnamed drug dealer. On January 21st last the High Court approved the forfeiture of the cash to the State.
Denis Twohig, an assistant principal in Revenue’s Customs Investigations Unit, says while much of the seized money is linked to drug dealing, fuel and cigarette smugglers, prostitutes and credit card fraudsters have also been caught.
The sums range from €7,000 to almost €700,000 per seizure.
He says while many of those acting as cash couriers will have an excuse prepared in the event they are caught, others simply surrender the money and answer no questions about its origins.
“Generally, the money is being moved from the State to purchase further quantities of drugs and so on. It’s also likely the money is being moved to fund lifestyles [of criminals living abroad].”
An examination of the 21 cases concluded in the High Court so far this year reveals many cash seizures were made from passengers about to leave Ireland on flights to Malaga, the gateway to southern Spain where many Irish gang leaders are based.
Two years ago two women from Dublin’s south inner city were stopped and searched as they were boarding flights to Malaga. They were carrying a combined total of over €30,000.
One said her portion was to be used to fund cosmetic surgery while the other claimed her share was for a property investment.
The money, which customs believe was destined for a Spanish-based member of one of Dublin’s Crumlin-Drimnagh feuding drugs gangs, was confiscated. It has since been forfeited to the State.
In another case the wife of a convicted brothel keeper – 65-year-old Paul Humphreys, originally from Cork – was found with €26,775 at Dublin airport in November 2005.
She was about to board a flight to her Cyprus home, via Italy, when she was stopped. The money was forfeited to the State in the High Court in March after it was found to be the proceeds of crime.
Among others stopped with money which was later forfeited to the State were the brothers of two murdered drug dealers.
Aaron Ennis from Clondalkin, whose brother Keith Ennis was found dismembered in a suitcase in an Amsterdam canal in March 2009, was found to be carrying €29,500 when stopped in Dublin airport bound for Malaga in July 2008.
Damien Coddington from Drogheda, Co Louth, was found with €37,000 from the proceeds of crime as he was about to board a plane at Dublin airport to Amsterdam in June 2008. He is a brother of Roy Coddington, a drug dealer who was shot dead in Drogheda in March 2007.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Leading criminal escapes assassination as gun jams

Sunday Tribune

Ali Bracken, Crime Correspondent
A NOTORIOUS criminal was lucky to escape with his life yesterday when a gunman attempted to shoot him outside his Dublin home but the revolver jammed.
Eamon Kelly (61), from Furry Park in Killester, was standing outside his house at 10.30am yesterday when a gunman approached him.
The man attempted to open fire on the convicted drug dealer, but the gun jammed and the shooter was forced to flee. Kelly was left shocked and stunned by the incident. The gardaí were contacted.
Kelly is considered a major criminal by senior gardaí and is currently under investigation by the organised crime unit. He was a close associate of murdered crime boss Eamon 'The Don' Dunne. It is understood that he was recently informed that there was a threat to his life by a Dublin crime gang over the sale and supply of drugs. He was advised by detectives to review his personal safety.
Kelly is one of the best known figures in the criminal underworld. Detectives believe the man who botched the attempted murder was a hired hitman.
In May 1993, Kelly became one of the first people to be jailed for importing a major shipment of cocaine. The father-of-nine was involved with carrying out robberies for the Official IRA in the 1980s.
The former armed robber was sentenced to 14 years in prison after he was caught with cocaine, worth an estimated €500,000, following a garda surveillance operation. He was also jailed for a serious assault.
September 12, 2010

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sheriff Street hoods targeted in gang-law file

Sunday Tribune

Ali Bracken, Crime Correspondent
Christy Griffin: sparked feud
Eamon Dunne: gang probed
1 2 A MAJOR garda file into the activities of feuding gangs in Dublin's Sheriff Street area is due to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by gardaí implementing anti-gangland legislation introduced last summer.
It is understood that the garda file, which has been compiled over several months, is the largest piece of intelligence on criminals in the Sheriff Street area in the north-inner city. Five men have been killed in the Sheriff Street feud. The group of drug dealers and armed robbers were once all friends but split after notorious gangster Christy Griffin was arrested for the rape of his partner's daughter.
Griffin was subsequently convicted of the crime and jailed for life. His actions split the once close-knit crime gang, with some turning against Griffin and supporting the young girl's family.
It is understood Griffin is not a major target in the new file, as he is not particularly influential in directing his gang's activity from behind bars. However, several members of the same family are major targets in the garda file.
Under the new legislation, a gang boss can be jailed for life if convicted of a charge of directing the activities of a criminal outfit.
A maximum sentence of 15 years can be imposed on those found guilty of participating in or facilitating the activities of a criminal gang with the aim of helping it to commit offences. The new laws allow for gangland criminals to be tried at the Special Criminal Court.
It is understood the DPP is considering as many as 10 garda files under the new anti-gangland laws. Detectives have submitted files on a number of other Dublin-based gangs as well as criminals in several other cities, including Limerick. Some have been put together by members of the force's Organised Crime Unit (OCU) while others have been compiled by local divisional detectives.
The DPP was recently presented with an extensive file on the activities of a Finglas-based gang, once led by murdered crime boss Eamon Dunne.
Meanwhile, four men alleged to be members of one of the Sheriff Street gangs arrested last week as part of garda enquiries into the murder of Aidan Byrne last February, were all expected to be released from custody early this week.
Files are being prepared for the DPP in relation to each man.
Detectives believe the four have been involved in various shootings and robberies, including the tiger kidnap that led to a €7m heist from the Bank of Ireland at St Stephen's Green. One of the men was released from Mountjoy garda station on Thursday while the other three remained in custody on Friday.
September 5, 2010

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fugitive Traynor was living with Gilligan mobster, Fatso Mitchell

Irish Herald
Fugitive Traynor was living with Gilligan mobster, Fatso Mitchell

By Cormac Byrne

Friday September 03 2010

VERONICA Guerin murder suspect John 'The Coach' Traynor was arrested while carrying the driving licence of a close associate of Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell.

It is also understood that during a follow-up search of Traynor's Amsterdam apartment, notorious gangster Mitchell himself was found lounging in the living-room.

The close links between the exiled Irish criminals became apparent after Dutch police arrested Traynor 11 days ago.

Like Traynor, Dublin native Mitchell (40) has lived abroad, in Spain and the Netherlands, since departing Ireland 14 years ago in the wake of the murder of reporter Guerin.

Traynor (62) has reportedly been under surveillance from Dutch authorities in recent weeks who were acting on information supplied Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Garda and criminal sources have alleged that Traynor travels regularly between southern Spain, Amsterdam and Brussels to organise large-scale cannabis deals.

Traynor was arrested in the Amstelveen area of the Netherlands on Monday, August 23, when Dutch police caught him carrying the driving licence of a well-known Dublin drug trafficker who was sent to jail in the late 1990s. He had been living as a fugitive for the past 18 years.

More details of his arrest -- and his connection to 'Fatso' Mitchell -- are now emerging.


Security sources said that the owner of the driving licence is a close associate of Mitchell, who forged a close relationship with 'The Coach' during their self-imposed exile.

Mitchell, from Summerhill in Dublin, has been living in the Netherlands since early 2008 after he survived an assassination attempt. A chief lieutenant in John Gilligan's gang, he was shot at a cafe on the Costa Del Sol.

Despite their exile, Mitchell and Traynor remained heavily involved in organised crime.

Last December, Mitchell was cleared of gun charges in Amsterdam. He had previously been in custody there since June 2009 for possession of weapons, false documents and money laundering. He was cleared of the charges on a technicality.

Meanwhile, it's emerged that gardai cannot extradite Traynor on criminal charges because of insufficient evidence against him, despite his known links to serious crime.

The Coach has no outstanding warrants in Ireland even though he was linked to a variety of criminal activities including robbery, embezzlement, drugs and prostitution.

Traynor was suspected of supplying information to Gilligan's drugs gang, who carried out the murder of the journalist.

Traynor was an underworld source for Guerin and she kept in regular contact with him.

Traynor had been on the run since November 1992 when he failed to return to the Highpoint prison in Suffolk, England, after he had been allowed home on a short visit to his wife and four children.

He had absconded from jail after serving one year out of a seven-year sentence handed down for his involvement in the theft of bonds after a planned sting operation by the British police in 1990.

Under Dutch legislation he will face extradition proceedings in the next six weeks after which he will be sent to the UK to see out his sentence.

His whereabouts in recent years have been well-known to gardai, British police and their European counterparts, even though he has been officially listed as missing in the UK.

Despite this an extradition order has never been sought against the career criminal.

It was suspected that Traynor was regarded as useful to police, who kept him under regular surveillance as he associated with other criminals.

He was closely linked to Martin 'The General' Cahill's gang and John Gilligan's drug gang despite the fact that Gilligan named him in court as the man who ordered the hit on Guerin, a claim he strenuously denied.

- Cormac Byrne

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dublin gangland boss John Traynor arrested in Netherlands

Former contact of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin in Dutch police custody after joint operation with UK
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent, Thursday 2 September 2010 13.30 BST
Article history
 Veronica Guerin, who was shot dead shot dead by the pillion passenger on a motorbike as she stopped at traffic lights in Naas, just outside Dublin, in June 1996 Photograph: PA/PA Archive/PA Photos
A convicted Dublin criminal who fled the Irish Republic after the murder of investigative journalist Veronica Guerin by another gangland boss has been arrested in the Netherlands.
John Traynor is in Dutch police custody after being detained in Amstelveen, outside Amsterdam, as part of an operation between detectives in Holland and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
In a statement today, Soca said Traynor was believed to have been living in the Netherlands for a number of years.
Guerin was shot dead by the pillion passenger on a motorbike as she stopped at traffic lights in Naas Road, Dublin, in June 1996.
Traynor, 62, has been wanted in the UK for 18 years after absconding from prison one year into a seven-year sentence for handling stolen bearer bonds in London.
A prisoner at Highpoint prison, in Suffolk, he was given temporary release, went back to Ireland and did not return.
He is now awaiting extradition to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Traynor was one of Guerin's criminal contacts and, prior to her murder, was seeking a high court order to prevent her from writing about his involvement in organised crime.
He hired a gunman to shoot her in the leg a year before another gangland criminal in Dublin had her assassinated.
Traynor fled Ireland after she was killed and moved between Spain and the Netherlands. He was arrested with Brian Meehan in Amsterdam in 1997. Meehan was extradited and is now serving life for Guerin's murder. Traynor was released without charge.
A Soca spokesperson said: "He is now awaiting extradition to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence.
"This arrest is as a result of ongoing collaboration with the Dutch authorities that Soca has to apprehend criminals operating in the Netherlands that impact on the UK." It is expected that Traynor will appear in court in the coming days.
There are no outstanding warrants for Traynor in the Irish Republic.
Traynor was an associate of Dublin criminal boss Martin Cahill, also known as The General, and was also close to John Gilligan.
Gilligan was cleared of the murder of Guerin in 2001. He was jailed by the special criminal court for 28 years for importing cannabis resin, the longest sentence handed down in Ireland for drugs offences.
Traynor was involved in a wide variety of criminal enterprises, from organising armed robberies to drug smuggling, embezzlement and prostitution. He was the second in command and main adviser of the drug-smuggling gang broken up by the Garda investigation into the Guerin murder. He also had contacts with the Irish National Liberation Army.
• This article was amended on 3 September 2010. The original referred to Naas, just outside Dublin. This has been corrected.