Armed Hutch mobster is taken down at country's busiest train station
This is the dramatic moment that heavily-armed gardai swooped on a Hutch gang member carrying a loaded gun at the country's busiest train station.
The 23-year-old criminal remained in garda custody last night.
He was joined by a 20-year-old woman who was allegedly seen handing him the gun at Connolly Station.
Our exclusive photos show the gangster on the ground just seconds after undercover officers dragged him off the Belfast-bound train at 3.20pm on Wednesday.
Another dramatic image captures officers examining the 9mm handgun.
Gardai believe the gangster may have been taking the gun to the North to assassinate a Kinahan cartel mobster.
Bystanders praised the professionalism of the gardai involved in the operation, which was organised by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB).
A 24-year-old Belfast student who boarded the train at the same time as the gangster was given a rare insight into the tactics used by the unit.
He told the Herald the man "appeared extremely nervous" as he carried a plastic bag and a black holdall.
As he walked through the carriage, he was forced to stop momentarily by a man and a woman who were engaged in a loud argument over seating arrangements.
A few seconds later he continued to his seat and placed the bag and holdall on the overhead rack.
At that point, the arguing couple revealed themselves as undercover gardai, produced firearms and placed garda caps on their heads.
Two more officers approached the man from the opposite end of the carriage.
At that point, he was surrounded by four armed guards pointing handguns at him.
"The officers were screaming 'armed gardai, put your hands up'," said the student.
"The fella never said a word and complied with all their directions.
"The gardai quickly handcuffed him to the table he was sitting at and removed his bags from the train.
"Then they dragged him off the train and put him on the ground face down.
"I think around five gardai stayed with him while another three examined the holdall and other bag. They pulled the gun out of the holdall. It was clear they knew exactly what they were doing and what they were looking for.
"The arrested fella stayed quiet the whole time."
A short time later, he was taken to nearby Store Street Garda Station where he remained last night.
The train was delayed for 14 minutes. Before it left the station, gardai re-entered the carriage to reassure passengers.
A woman who was on the train with her 14-year-old daughter said she would "never have guessed" that the two people who were arguing were gardai.
It is believed the loaded gun was being delivered to a hideout in the North where at least half a dozen Hutch gang associates are in hiding.
These include cartel targets James 'Mago' Gately, Keith Murtagh and a young criminal who is suspected of involvement in the shooting at the boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra last year.
The suspected Regency gunman is closely linked to the 20-year-old woman who was arrested at Dublin Airport shortly after the Connolly bust.
The male arrested with the firearm in Wednesday's operation is both an associate of the Hutch gang and a suspected drug dealer. He lives in Summerhill in the capital's north inner city.
He is a close pal of slain Gary Hutch's cousin Eddie Staunton, who survived a murder attempt in the north inner city last March.