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€2.5m cocaine find by gardai a huge blow to feuding Maguire mob

Three quizzed over drugs sourced by Kinahan cartel

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The seized cocaine, believed to be worth around €2.5m

The seized cocaine, believed to be worth around €2.5m

PA

Owen Maguire

Owen Maguire

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The seized cocaine, believed to be worth around €2.5m

The so-called Maguire faction in the deadly Drogheda feud has been dealt a massive blow as detectives seized €2.5m of cocaine which was "partially destined" for the murderous Co Louth mob.

Last night, three men remained in garda custody in two Dublin stations - a 59-year-old from Armagh and two Latvian nationals aged 44 and 48.

Senior sources revealed the drugs had been sourced by the Kinahan cartel to be distributed to a number of different crime networks, including the Maguire faction, as well as gangs based in Northern Ireland.

After the murder of arch-rival Robbie Lawlor in Belfast earlier this month, sources said the Maguire faction has taken the "upper hand" in the feud which has so far claimed four lives.

However, the massive coke seizure is "going to hurt their business operations".

Distributed

"The intelligence indicates that the cocaine was brought into the country by the cartel to be distributed among a number of crime organisations based in Co Louth and Northern Ireland," a senior source said.

Investigations were still at a delicate stage last night as follow-up searches involving the PSNI took place and gardai attempted to carry out full background checks on the two arrested Latvian men who are not resident here.

Gardai yesterday announced details of the massive seizure - one of the biggest drugs busts of the year.

"In the course of an intelligence-led operation targeting organised criminality, personnel attached to the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau [GNDOCB] stopped and searched three vehicles in the Blakes Cross area of Co Dublin on Saturday afternoon," a statement said.

"The searches that were undertaken by GNDOCB resulted in the discovery and seizure of a quantity of a substance believed to be cocaine with an estimated street value of €2.5m. Three men were arrested at the scene and detained at two Dublin garda stations."

Detective Chief Superintendent Angela Willis, who is Head of Bureau at GNDOCB, said An Garda Siochana is committed to disrupting the activities of organised criminals supplying drugs to our communities.

"This seizure of a substantial quantity of cocaine is significant in disrupting this supply and enabling us to keep people safe," she said.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who heads the force's Special Crime Operations, added: "We continue to pursue those who engage in serious and organised crime with a view to dismantling the organised crime groups they are associated with.

"This seizure of what is believed to be cocaine and the subsequent arrest of three suspects will assist in achieving that objective."

Shot

The Maguire mob is led by crime boss Owen Maguire, who is confined to a wheelchair after being shot multiple times, allegedly by Robbie Lawlor, in July 2018.

The massive cocaine seizure follows a separate seizure of €1.24m of cannabis herb in Co Laois on Friday evening.

Gardai from Arles and Ballylinan, supported by the Laois Divisional Drugs Unit, located the 62kg haul in a ditch along a secondary road on the Carlow/Laois border as a result of an intelligence-led operation.