Masked gang members hid in boot of taxi
Four members of a dangerous north inner city gang were in garda custody last night after a dramatic arrest operation in which two of the criminals were caught wearing balaclavas concealed in the boot of a Toyota taxi.
Heavily armed detectives pounced on the taxi and a Ford Mondeo which were travelling in convoy at Harold Road in Stoneybatter in Dublin's north inner city at around 10.30am.
Two of the criminals were hiding in the taxi's boot. One of the men had a large knife in their possession. The only other occupant of the Mondeo was its driver. Neither car had been stolen.
"A number of items including a large bladed knife and balaclavas were recovered during the searches," a garda spokesman said.
These items included wigs and ski masks which were seized by armed officers.
All of the individuals were arrested and were being questioned last night in Mountjoy and Store Street Garda Stations.
Three of the suspects are aged in their early 30s and have addresses in Dublin's north inner city while the fourth man is aged in his late 40s and from the Raheny area.
One of the arrested suspects was heavily involved in the bitter north inner city feud in Dublin which claimed five lives between 2006 and 2010. He was closely associated with Stephen Ledden who was shot dead in December, 2006.
All are well known to gardai and the arrest is just the latest success for the newly amalgamated Organised Crime Unit and Garda National Drug Unit.
The men are being questioned about conspiracy to commit a robbery and sources say that gardai intercepted the vehicles shortly before this was due to happen.
"The lads in the boot were tooled up and ready to go. These arrests were part of a long-running surveillance operation," a source explained.
"There can be absolutely no doubt that these individuals were up to no good," the source added.
The arrested man, who is a former close associate of gangland victim Stephen Ledden, has served a number of jail sentences for mainly minor offences.
During the bitter north inner city feud, he forged a close alliance with jailed paedophile mob boss Christy Griffin and the arrested man's associates are the chief suspects for the murder of Gerard 'Batt' Byrne in 2006.
Byrne (26), a key ally of Griffin's rape victim's family, became the first fatality of the feud when he was gunned down in Dublin's IFSC on December 13, 2006.
The feud has died down in recent years.