Large cache of guns loaded for ‘imminent attack’, seized by gardaí

‘No doubt’ lives saved as a result of haul which included submachine gun and assault rifle

 Garda Detective Superintendent Tony Howard, Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau during a media briefing at Dublin Castle on the firearms and ammunition seizure which was discovered at an industrial estate in Baldonnel, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Garda Detective Superintendent Tony Howard, Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau during a media briefing at Dublin Castle on the firearms and ammunition seizure which was discovered at an industrial estate in Baldonnel, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

A number of firearms discovered at a warehouse in Dublin on Tuesday were loaded and primed for an “imminent attack”, the superintendent who directed the raid has said.

Detective Superintendent Tony Howard of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau said at least 15 guns were found at the warehouse in the Greenogue Industrial Estate in Rathcoole, west Dublin.

This figure may rise to 20 once a full investigation of the scene is completed, and as of Tuesday the haul of weapons included at least one assault rifle, at least one submachine gun, a number of semi-automatic pistols and several handguns along with a “considerable” amount of ammunition.

Three men aged in their 40s and 50s were arrested in connection with the discovery, one of whom was arrested at the scene while the other two were picked up by gardaí nearby.

They are currently being held at stations around west Dublin under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

Speaking to media after the find, Superintendent Howard said he had “no doubt” that lives had been saved as a result.

“Today’s operation disrupted an imminent attack and I have no doubt we have saved lives as a result of this operation,” he said.

He continued: “A number of firearms were actually loaded and it would appear were ready to be taken away.

“These guns are linked to serious organised crime, and when you seize firearms that are loaded it’s indicative of the fact that you’ve saved somebody’s life because they’re ready for use.”

It is suspected that the stash is related to the activities of the Kinahan crime cartel which has its power base in the south and west of the city. However gardaí say they have not ruled out the possible involvement of other actors and that investigations will follow a number of lines of inquiry.

Superintendent Howard provided a strong indication that Tuesday’s seizure of firearms may have some link to the discovery of €35 million worth of cannabis at Dublin Port on Friday.

“It says volumes that organised crime groups have both the capacity and obviously the money to import those quantities of drugs. Similarly in relation to the firearms today, the reality of it is very few individuals or groups would have the ability to amass these types of firearms.

“All of these seizures put together really has resulted in a considerable impact on how these organised crime gangs can operate here in the State,” he said.

He paid tribute to the gardaí involved in raids on organised criminal activities, saying their lives are “always in danger” when carrying out operations of this nature.

Tuesday’s find is thought to be one of the most comprehensive seizures of guns and ammunition in recent years, and follows the discovery of five guns stashed in a car in the Cabra area of the city in November.

Superintendent Howard appealed to members of the public who may have witnessed any potentially suspicious activity in the Greenogue Industrial Estate over recent days to come forward to gardaí, particularly any workmen or delivery drivers who may have been in the area.

“There may just be a piece of the jigsaw that some member of the public who may have visited the Greenogue Industrial Estate may have seen somebody acting suspiciously over the last 24 or 48 hours. If anyone has any information please do contact us,” he said.