Kinahan hit team was closing in on top Hutch rival hiding in northern bolthole
A notorious Estonian hitman nicknamed 'The Butcher' had planned to travel to Northern Ireland from Dublin for the Kinahan cartel to murder a Hutch gang target, the Herald can reveal.
Garda investigations have established that the cartel has identified an apartment in Northern Ireland where the feared Hutch gang member has been hiding out.
A raid by heavily armed gardai in Blakestown, West Dublin on Tuesday afternoon recovered evidence that the cartel had detailed information about the Hutch mob top man's exact movements in the North.
Suspected hitman Imre Arakas (58) and two Dublin criminals, aged 57 and 33, linked to the cartel remained in garda custody last night after Tuesday's dramatic arrests.
"Evidence of a specific plan was found to murder this individual," a senior source said last night. "This murder was due to happen across the border and plans were at a very advanced stage.
"The Hutch gang member has been based in that apartment on and off for a number of months but the cartel seemed to have discovered all his movements.
"Gardai have informed the PSNI about this and there is a belief that other prominent Hutch gang members have stayed at the same apartment in recent times.
"All the indications are that this murder was due to happen in the North this week and guns were due to be dropped at the property in Blakestown in west Dublin, where the arrests happened."
Europol agents were liaising with garda detectives last night about Arkas's suspected crimes in continental Europe.
Meanwhile, sources have confirmed that a mobile phone used by 'The Butcher' was bugged by gardai.
Armed detectives pounced on the west Dublin home when the suspect sent texts to a cartel chief based in Spain requesting a gun and silencer - just 48 hours after arriving in Ireland.
It is understood he could have banked up to €100,000 for taking out the Hutch target and was hired after the cartel grew tired of botched murder attempts carried out by lower- level criminals.
The interception marks the 11th time gardai have saved the life of the Hutch criminal, one of the key players in the feud, which kicked off after the cartel murdered his close friend Gary Hutch in Spain in September 2015.
The high-level Hutch target of the Estonian hitman appeared in court in recent weeks in relation to driving offences. Gardai had to place a huge security operation around the Criminal Courts of Justice.
This criminal was previously arrested in the company of Patrick Hutch Jnr, who was later arrested and charged with the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016.
The notorious north inner city criminal is a feared hitman who is suspected of carrying out the murders of Paul Kavanagh in April 2015, as well as Eamon 'The Don' Dunne in 2010, on behalf of the Kinahan cartel.
However, he cut ties with the gang after Gary Hutch's murder and is now their sworn enemy.
In the aftermath of the Regency Hotel killing, he even warned gardai that the gang war between the Christy Kinahan cartel and the Hutch mob would not end until Daniel Kinahan was shot dead.
Tensions remain extremely high in the capital's deadly feud, which has claimed 11 lives.
In a separate development, the Herald revealed last weekend that gardai were warned that a Kinahan cartel hit team was travelling to the north inner city to carry out a murder, sparking a major alert.
The tip-off led gardai to advise unarmed officers not to stop any suspect vehicles without armed back-up.
Unarmed gardai were also told not to attend any firearms incidents without having armed officers with them.
The alert was issued to officers working in the north inner city at 10pm last Thursday.
The warning about the hit team came following investigations from the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.