herald

Friday 24 November 2017

Close pal of 'Hatchet' linked to Kinahan cartel's deadly 15-gun killer arsenal

Armed gardai at the scene
Armed gardai at the scene

A close associate of murdered gangster Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh is suspected of being the Kinahan cartel figure behind a massive firearms haul seized in west Dublin.

At least 15 high-powered assault rifles and handguns were seized by gardai in the swoop yesterday afternoon.

One AK-47, a sub-machine gun, several handguns and a number of semi-automatic pistols were among the deadly arsenal.

A number of the weapons were loaded, with senior gardai stating that an "imminent attack" was prevented and that lives were saved.

The significant seizure is being linked to a highly-active south Dublin based criminal .

He has been a major target for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and had a number of vehicles seized in a special operation by the agency last April.

Arrested

He was not one of the three men arrested by gardai in the massive surveillance operation yesterday, which resulted in the huge bust at Greenogue Industrial Estate in Baldonnel.

The operation followed weeks of investigation by the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB).

Three men, aged in their early 40s and early 50s, were arrested and were last night being questioned at Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Rathcoole Garda Stations.

They have addresses in Celbridge, Rathcoole and Naas, with the Naas resident originally from Crumlin.

One of the individuals was arrested in the "lock-up", while the two other men were detained close to the scene in a car.

Gardai believe the two men in the car were due to collect the weapons, some of which were fully loaded.

Officers from the DOCB raided a warehouse in the Greenogue Industrial Estate, Baldonnel, west Dublin, in a dawn operation yesterday.

It followed a lengthy surveillance operation at the premises, with gardai storming the warehouse after witnessing one man enter the storage facility.

The main target of the operation was not caught up in the bust, however gardai believe that he is a very senior member of the murderous cartel.

It is understood the operation was part of a long-running probe into the activities of a very close associate of slain gangster Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh (44), who was murdered in Spain in September, 2014.

Kavanagh was shot nine times by two masked men as he sipped a beer at Harmon's Irish Bar in Elviria near Marbella.

He was a senior member and enforcer for the Kinahan crime gang and gardai have been investigating whether he was killed by his own mob.

Detective Superintendent Tony Howard of the DOCB said: "This was an intelligence-led operation and forensic examinations by the technical bureau are ongoing as I speak.

"But I can say we have a minimum of 15 firearms recovered, possibly as many as 20, but we won't know the full figure until we've carried out a full search of the premises itself," he said.

Disrupted

"There is absolutely no doubt that this operation disrupted an imminent attack and I've no doubt that we have saved lives as a result of this operation," he added.

Members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) guarded the warehouse as officers from the Garda Technical Bureau carried out a forensic examination.

It means that in the space of just 72 hours, gardai have seized almost €40m of drugs and up to 15 weapons from the deadly cartel.

"Obviously his particular operation and last weekend, as well as a myriad of operations we conducted through 2016, resulted in 18 firearms being seized," the senior garda added.

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