Thirteen held in major drug raids
Thirteen people have been arrested after a massive Garda blitz on a drug trafficking gang operating out of north inner city Dublin.
More than 300 officers including elite armed units and the riot squad led dawn raids on 33 locations across the capital, Kildare, Cork city, Cavan and Wexford.
The crime outfit has been embroiled in a bitter gangland feud for several years and is becoming increasingly involved in heroin, cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy trafficking.
Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy said the inner city faction had been spreading its influence across the country. "We are focusing on organised crime in the Dublin inner city but unfortunately it's not confined to that area and the people that are engaged in that kind of criminality have links all across the country and that's why we find ourselves in counties Wexford and Cavan and so on," he said.
"The important thing from our perspective is the focus of this operation - it is to reduce or take out the impact of criminal activities, organised crime activities, in the Dublin inner city at the moment."
The suspects arrested on Monday were aged in their late teens to early 60s. Seven of the men were detained under tough laws against organised crime, including participation and contribution to activities to enhance a criminal gang, and others over trafficking offences. Eleven remained in custody while two others were charged with unconnected offences from outstanding investigations.
Garda sources said a significant amount of material was recovered during the raids including paperwork, computer files, bullet proof vests and mobile phones. A small amount of cocaine, regarded as personal use, was also seized.
About 300 officers from the drugs squad at Store Street in Dublin, the elite Emergency Response Unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Organised Crime Unit, Air Support, dog handlers and the riot squad were briefed on the operation in the early hours of this morning at Garda headquarters, Phoenix Park. At about 4am a convoy of Garda vehicles headed to search homes, business premises and other property.
The Sheriff Street/Oriel Street area has been at the centre of a bloody gang war for several years after two factions emerged following the jailing of crime boss Christy Griffin for sex attacks on his partner's daughter. At least four murders are linked to the feud. The intelligence-led operation targeted one gang opposed to Griffin in the area and a number of addresses on the outskirts of the capital were also searched.
A Garda spokesman said the raids were co-ordinated from Store Street as part of an on-going intelligence-led investigation into drug trafficking. It is understood the operation was aimed at the gang's distribution network and targeted those suspected of moving drugs around the country to dealers.