Belfast Telegraph

Gardai foil more than 60 murder plots in fight against organised crime

Gardai say their fight against organised crime is ‘unrelenting’.

Some of the firearms and ammunition that have been seized by gardai over the last four years (Cate McCurry/PA)
Some of the firearms and ammunition that have been seized by gardai over the last four years (Cate McCurry/PA)

Gardai have foiled more than 60 gangland murder bids in the last three years.

It comes as gardai said the fight against organised crime is “unrelenting”.

New figures show that in the last four years, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau have seized 101 firearms, 3,300 rounds of ammunition, made more than 650 arrests, recovered almost 10 million euro in cash and 158 million euro worth of drugs.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said a total of nine people have been jailed in the last two weeks, including six men on Monday at the Special Criminal Court.

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Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll and Detective Chief Supt Angela Willis from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (Cate McCurry/PA)

He said an unprecedented number of sentences have been handed out by the court in relation to people engaged in organised crime.

“A number of people were jailed for 13-and-a-half years, others received 12 and six-year sentences,” Mr O’Driscoll added.

It was confirmed that 64 lives have been saved by gardai intercepting gangland activity since David Byrne was murdered during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in February 2016.

Seamus Boland, director of operations, said they have been recording the threat to life operations since the attack.

He added: “The figure to date is 64 such operations and those are occasions where we would be satisfied that attacks were being planned and were likely to be imminent and were prevented because of Garda activity.”

The Assistant Commissioner said the incident at the Regency Hotel presented a “serious scenario” and admitted the An Garda Siochana “may not have been prepared” for it.

Mr O’Driscoll added: “Since that date, we have had a consistent and unrelenting approach which involved the gathering of intelligence and then the targeting of particular organised groups arising from the analysis of that intelligence.”

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Two members of the garda emergency response unit stand over some of the firearms and ammunition that have been seized over the last four years (Cate McCurry/PA)

He said he hoped the latest sentencing would discourage others from getting involved in organised crime and hoped it will discourage those who continue to be involved in organised crime groups.

“We can give an assurance that we will continue to be unrelenting in our pursuit of those who decided to engage in organised crime,” he continued.

“A very important aspect of a lot of these convictions and other convictions relating to organised crime has been the involvement of people at a local level.”

He added: “We will continue to target the assets of those criminals and we engage on a daily basis with the Criminal Assets Bureau.”

Mr O’Driscoll commended gardai for the “exemplary police work”.

He also said the Special Criminal Court has allowed gardai to focus on resources in tackling people who may engage in organised crime whose doorstep gardai “have not arrived (at) yet”.

The Assistant Commissioner said he did not know the number of firearms that are currently in circulation, but said the convictions reveal the level of firearms available to the gangs.

“Firearms are imported from abroad very often along with quantities of controlled substances and they are moving in and out of the country on a regular basis,” he said.

Mr O’Driscoll said the aim of the gardai is to dismantle the criminal organisation that the Hutch and Kinahan gangs represent.

PA

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