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Five held after gardai swoop on gang

Five men were in custody last night after armed gardai smashed a major crime gang.

The suspects were detained as officers foiled a plan to carry out a substantial robbery in Co Kildare early yesterday.

Senior officers believe the gang were preparing to pounce on their intended victim when they were intercepted in a housing estate in the village of Kill, off the Dublin-Naas dual-carriageway.

Detectives recovered a sawn-off shotgun and an automatic pistol, which were taken away for forensic examination at the garda technical bureau in the Phoenix Park.

The arrests followed a lengthy investigation into the activities of the gang, which has been involved in the past in several armed robberies, while some of the suspects are associates of criminals believed to have been involved in tiger kidnaps in the capital.

The garda operation was spearheaded by officers from the Organised Crime Unit, based at the Dublin metropolitan headquarters at Harcourt Square. They were backed up by heavily armed members of the Emergency Response Unit.

Some of the suspects had been under surveillance before the gardai swooped on them.

They had travelled out of the city in two cars and met up in the housing estate shortly before 1am.

One of the cars, a BMW, had been stolen in west Dublin on April 1 and stashed away in a hideout in preparation for the armed robbery.

Three of the suspects were found in the BMW along with the two weapons.

The other two were detained nearby; one of them was caught after a short chase through the estate when he tried to escape on foot.

Two of the suspects are brothers, aged 30 and 35 years old, and are from Blanchardstown in west Dublin. They are both well known to gardai and have been linked by officers in the past to serious crime.

The other suspects are a 35-year-old man, from Clane, Co Kildare; a 27-year-old man, from Malahide in north county Dublin; and a 28-year-old from the East Wall area of the north inner-city.

All five were detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which means they can be held without charge for up to three days.

Last night they were being questioned at garda stations in Ballyfermot, Ronanstown and Clondalkin.

Senior gardai told the Irish Independent they believed the capture had dealt a significant blow to organised crime in west Dublin as well as preventing a major robbery, which had been in the planning stages for more than two months.

Tackling gun crime has been a priority for Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan since he took up the top job in the organisation at the start of the year, and senior detectives have been focusing on key suspects around the capital for several months, particularly those believed to have been involved in large hold-ups and tiger kidnaps.

Belfast Telegraph