Gardaí evacuate homes after explosives manufacturing found in Drogheda house

Search operation was part of Operation Stratus which targets criminal gangs

Residents were evacuated from their homes on  a Drogheda street after an explosives manufacturing facility was discovered in a nearby house. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES

Residents were evacuated from their homes on a Drogheda street after an explosives manufacturing facility was discovered in a nearby house. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Gardaí investigating organised crime in Drogheda, Co Louth, where a gang feud has claimed four lives in the past three years, were forced to evacuate residents from their homes on a street in the town late on Thursday night after an explosives manufacturing facility was discovered in a nearby house.

Gardaí seized an arsenal of weapons and a quantity of drugs, with the Army called in to clear the scene due to the danger posed by the explosive material found.

The people who had to be evacuated spent most of the night out of their homes while the house was searched and cleared.

The operation began at close to midnight when gardaí found a large quantity of guns and ammunition along with two pipe bombs, gun powder, cocaine and tablets.

“At 11pm on Thursday Gardaí attached to the Louth Divisional Drugs Unit based at Drogheda, carried out a search of a house in Drogheda town,” the Garda said.

All of the items seized were found in the same house and gardaí said while the quantity of cocaine (at about €1,100 in value) and Alprazolam tablets (at about €500) was modest, the discovery of the pipe bombs and guns was much more significant.

The scene was cordoned off immediately the find was made and local people removed from their homes for their own safety before the Army’s bomb disposal team arrived to examine the find.

The Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team removed the two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or pipe bombs, and other material hidden in the house which gardaí believe was “being used in the manufacture of explosives”.

“The scene was made safe at 5am but remains preserved this morning for a full forensic examination,” the Garda said early in Friday. “During the course of this operation two men, one in his early-40s and another in his mid-50s, were arrested in connection with the seizure.”

The suspects were being held at Drogheda Garda station on Friday morning under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. Gardaí said the late night search and evacuation operation was related to Operation Stratus, which is investigating organised crime in the town, including the feuding factions.