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Man suspected of a number of killings among four held over botched Kinahan murder attempt

The arrests have been described by gardai as significant.

Image: Sam Boal

THE ARRESTS OF four men accused of attempting to carry out a gangland murder on behalf of the Kinahan cartel represents one of the biggest victories for gardaí since the feud began, officers have said.

Among those arrested is a senior figure within the gang, as well as someone who gardaí believe helped orchestrate one of the eight deaths linked to the Kinahan faction over the last 18 months.

Two others are not members of the Kinahan cartel. Instead, gardaí believe they are hired gunmen.

One is a convicted criminal who has, in the past, been charged with murder. He was later acquitted. This man has also made regular death threats to members of gardaí who have been tracking him for a number of years.

The youngest man arrested is a 23-year-old relative of a serious criminal in west Dublin who has already survived an attempt on his life.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll yesterday vowed that gardaí will be arresting more senior players in the coming weeks as a raft of new intelligence garnered by elite officers is starting to pay dividends.

Significant

Speaking at a news conference yesterday, he said: “[The] operation was probably the most significant operations of its type ever undertaken in terms of the level of resources employed.

It reflects the fact the State realises the impact and the capacity that organised crime can do to damage the community we live in.

“Clearly we intervened in a situation where, we alleged, that a person’s life was in immediate danger. There is evidence that a number of people were in close proximity to a loaded weapon bearing a silencer and ammunition.

“We will allege that this was an elaborate enterprise involving getaway cars. There were plans to destroy these getaway cars and for those involved to immediately flee from the scene without getting caught.”

The arrests happened in a number of different operations.

Members of the Emergency Response Unit spotted and stopped a car in the Fairview area of the capital where they discovered the loaded firearm and a silencer. Shortly after, two other men were arrested in Dublin’s south inner city – an area known to be the heartland of the Kinahan cartel.

Following the arrests of the four individuals, gardaí searched a number of premises and removed a number of items of potential evidence.

Gardaí had mounted intelligence operations for a number of months prior to moving in on the targets. Undercover officers had ascertained who the suspected victim of the planned operation earlier this year.

The man, an associate of the Hutch gang, was seen as an easy target as he is someone who wouldn’t have considered himself top of the Kinahan’s murder list.

However, threats had been made by a number of other gangs to this man. The cartel, it is understood, believed it would not face retaliation as it would have been unclear who had killed the target.

The cartel has attempted to carry out at least a dozen murders in the calendar year. However, gardaí have intercepted the vast majority of these before they could be carried out.

International arrests

In recent weeks, the cartel has been hit hard with the arrest of their main cocaine supplier along with the seizure of a number of phones which link the Irish gang to South American distributors.

Distributors of cocaine have been arrested in the Netherlands, the Caribbean and Germany, as well as Chile where the drug baron ‘El Rico’ was arrested last week.

Approximately 60% of Ireland’s cocaine had been coming through El Rico and his distributors, according to sources.

The arrest of El Rico and the subsequent seizure of his electronic devices is the main reason for the international arrests. He had been using a German IT protection system, used by many multinational financial organisations, in an attempt to safeguard his communications. Leading members of the Kinahan cartel were in conversation with El Rico by using this system.

The seizure of the phones now means that police in a number of jurisdictions have access to El Rico’s records which go back to 2011 – meaning any deal made between him and Irish gangs is currently being accessed by investigators.

Charges for murder, drug trafficking and the importation of arms are expected to be brought against Irish drug dealers by US and Dutch authorities in the coming weeks once all of the encrypted communications have been accessed and logged.

The main gang leaders of the Kinahan cartel have fled Ireland in the last six months. Some have a number of outstanding arrest warrants in Spain, Ireland and the UK.

Read: Kinahan cartel members to face international murder charges following arrest of Chilean drug lord >

Read: Gardaí arrest four men they believed were about to carry out a gangland murder >

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