Brazilian gang held in Offaly had sub-machine gun and student visas

Men suspected of planning murder of member of criminal gang

A search of the vehicles revealed a sub-machine gun, a shotgun and ammunition

A search of the vehicles revealed a sub-machine gun, a shotgun and ammunition

 

Four Brazilians arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of planning to murder a member of a criminal organisation based in the Midlands were in the country on student visas.

The men, who are aged in their 30s, were arrested near the village of Clara in Co Offaly following a dramatic Garda operation involving the Security and Intelligence section, the Emergency Response Unit and the National Surveillance Unit.

They were found with a sub-machine gun, a shotgun and ammunition. Gardaí believe they were travelling to Tullamore to assassinate a member of a Traveller gang involved in the drugs trade in the area.

The Irish Times understands the four men are resident in Ireland and hold student visas but it is not known if these visas were obtained under false pretences. Gardaí believe they are involved in the drug trade here and were not brought into the country for the purposes of carrying out the murder.

Gardaí suspect they were hired by a rival criminal gang to carry out the planned murder.

A wide-ranging Garda investigation is continuing with searches taking place in Dublin and other areas of the country on Wednesday.

Gardaí had received intelligence about a planned murder related to a feud between criminal groups leading to the National Surveillance Unit being tasked with monitoring the men’s movements.

On Wednesday morning the men were observed travelling in two vehicles west from Dublin. Three men were in a van and one was in a car. A decision was made to arrest the men and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were tasked with leading the operation.

The men were believed to be armed and the ERU decide to perform a “hard stop” – using Garda vehicles to force the van and car to halt before arresting the men at gunpoint.

The men were arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939 meaning they can be held for questioning for up to three days before being charged or released. They remained in Tullamore and Portlaoise Garda stations last night.

The men’s suspected target is a man heavily involved in the drugs trade in the Midlands and someone who has been involved in feuds with rival Traveller gangs in Offaly, Longford and Westmeath.

Garda headquarters has declined to disclose details of the operation aside from a statement that it is “currently engaged in an ongoing operation that has resulted from an incident that occurred in Clara, this morning, Wednesday 27 May 2020.

“Four males are currently detained under section 30 of Offences Against the State Act and a number of firearms have been recovered. This is an ongoing operation and An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time.”

Several Midlands towns including Tullamore and Longford have seen increased violence in the last year relating to feuds involving Traveller gangs involved in the drugs trade. However the involvement of Brazilian criminals is a new development, sources said.