Cartel hired gun held in bust 'was set to carry out a hit'
A hitman who has been on retainer for the Kinahan cartel since the outbreak of the gangland feud in the capital was staying at a Dublin safe house for more than a week before he was busted by armed gardai over the weekend.
The 39-year-old criminal was in garda custody last night after a loaded semi-automatic handgun was seized in a major operation on Friday night.
Senior gardai have described the operation as an intervention in a possible threat-to-life incident, which was led by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB).
In total, four people have now been arrested as part of an investigation after detectives lifted two men, understood to be aged in their 20s and 50s, yesterday morning.
The younger man is believed to have been in the property in the days before the operation and both are currently being held at Ballyfermot Garda Station.
The older man arrested yesterday is understood to have links to the property that was searched, while the younger man in custody is also from the Clondalkin area.
Detectives were last night continuing to gather evidence in an effort to bring charges against the 39-year-old who was busted on Friday, whose arrest was described as "highly significant".
He is considered a serial hitman-for-hire who was previously arrested over the murder of Eddie Hutch, the brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, in February 2016.
He had been staying at the property for more than a week before his arrest.
However, gardai have not ruled out the possibility that he returned to Ireland beforehand after being on the run for more than three years.
The criminal had been running a major drugs outfit in west Dublin before the outbreak of the feud, which was later passed on to a younger criminal known as 'Mr Flashy'.
When members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) raided the Clondalkin property at 11.30pm they discovered the gun-for-hire in a building at the back of the property with the firearm beside him. A 26-year-old north Dublin man, with connections to a drugs gang in the Finglas area, was also arrested.
A senior source last night told the Herald: "There has been no specific target identified yet but there is little doubt that this man was being held at the property before he was due to carry out a hit.
"It may be linked to the Hutch/Kinahan feud, but he is a hitman for hire, and the possibility that he was paid to carry out a shooting as part of a separate dispute isn't being ruled out."
The arrests followed an intelligence investigation involving the Crime and Security Section and local Dublin gardai, as well as the DOCB and ERU.
Speaking after the arrests, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, head of Special Crime Operations, said: "This is yet another successful intervention by the Garda Siochana in a potential threat to life incident, involving the seizure of a loaded firearm and the arrest of suspects."
Friday night's operation came just hours after a major target for the Kinahan cartel, Nathan Coakley Hutch, was released from prison.
The 26-year-old north inner city criminal had walked free from Wheatfield Prison that morning after serving a sentence for crime not linked to the feud.
He is considered a top target for the Kinahan cartel and his brother Derek was shot dead in January 2018 as part of the dispute.
Derek Coakley Hutch was not considered to have had any involvement in the feud and was believed to have been a soft target.
His younger brother Nathan fled Ireland after the outbreak of the feud in February 2016 and spent time in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK with other Hutch associates.
He was eventually arrested in Liverpool before being extradited to Ireland and later sentenced for the unlawful use of a stolen car in possession of a knife.
While he was serving his sentence he was on a special protection wing in Wheatfield Prison for associates of the Hutch faction.