Quadruple arrest a severe setback for Kinahan gang, says Garda

Two armed men arrested shortly before they planned to shoot a Hutch gang associate

 

The dramatic arrest of four men in Dublin on Monday evening, allegedly as two of them were poised to murder a person linked to the Hutch gang, was the result of a Garda surveillance and intelligence-gathering operation lasting months.

It culminated in close to 100 heavily-armed gardaí being deployed to frustrate the plan, believed to have been the latest attempt by the Kinahan gang to murder a Hutch gang associate.

Two men armed with a loaded Beretta pistol, a silencer and ammunition were detained in Fairview at about 8pm. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau know the suspected target but are not identifying him publicly at present.

The other two men, whose role is believed to have related to helping the hit team flee the scene of their planned murder, were arrested elsewhere in central Dublin. Gardaí also found the means to destroy cars that were to believed to be used in the killing and getaway.

The four men – aged 23, 35, 37 and 38 – are all well known to gardaí. One is a senior member of the Kinahan gang and another, who is also connected to the gang, has multiple convictions, including for bomb and gun offences.

The two others are from west Dublin and are believed to be killers for hire,with one of them having been released from jail earlier this year.

No shots were fired during the operation and gardaí say they are confident of further arrests in the coming days.

Gardaí believe they have inflicted a severe setback to the Kinahan gang in what they say is an “unrelenting” push against organised crime.

‘Highly significant’

Details of what happened emerged on Tuesday morning at a briefing at the Garda offices at Harcourt Square given by Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll. He said the operation was highly significant and the latest of more than 40 incidents in which gardaí had intervened.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll said the Garda operation was highly significant. Photograph: Collins
Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll said the Garda operation was highly significant. Photograph: Collins

He said the operation was one of the most significant of its type – in terms of the level of resources deployed against gangland criminals and the degree of co-operation between different sections of the Garda, including the Security and Intelligence Branch.

If the Director of Public Prosecutions agrees to charges, “it will be open for the public to see how we came about making these arrests ,” said Mr O’Driscoll. “They will be some of the most revealing trials in the history of the State.”

Describing the arrests, he said: “We intervened in a situation where we allege a person’s life was in immediate danger, which is evidenced by the fact that a number of the people that we are making allegations against were in close proximity to a loaded weapon bearing a silencer, accompanied by ammunition.”

He said since being deployed in the aftermath of the February 2016 Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne, the spark that ignited the feud in Dublin, the Garda has had considerable success.

In 2017 alone, he said, the focus on organised crime, and in particular the targeting of the two feuding gangs, had resulted in gardaí seizing three pistols, 10 revolvers, 1,879 bullets, two shotguns, three submachine guns, three assault rifles and six semiautomatic pistols.

“Since the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau was established on March 9th, 2015,” said Mr O’Driscoll, “it brings it to a total of 66 in terms of the number of firearms seized, with 2,879 rounds of ammunition. The bureau has [also] been responsible for seizing in the region of €5.5 million, €3.5 million of that in 2017 alone.”

The feud began in Spain with the September 2015 murder of Gary Hutch by the Kinahan gang. The following December, Darren Kearns was shot dead, apparently by the Kinahans, in Dublin.

In the aftermath of Byrne’s murder the killings escalated dramatically.

Six members of the Hutch family, or close associates, have been shot dead since then, as well as two innocent people, Martin O’Rourke, who was shot dead in Sheriff Street in Dublin, and Drimnagh man Trevor O’Neill, who was on holiday in Majorca. Both were victims of mistaken identity.