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Deadly fued grinds to a temporary halt as gangs grounded

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Gardai have dealt a blow to the gangs by making more than 40 drug seizures

Gardai have dealt a blow to the gangs by making more than 40 drug seizures

Gardai have dealt a blow to the gangs by making more than 40 drug seizures

A combination of garda seizures and restrictions on movement as a result of the coronavirus crisis have led to a virtual lull in the tit-for-tat attacks in the deadly Drogheda feud.

More than 40 seizures of drugs, mainly cocaine, in the Louth Division in the last couple of months have dealt a heavy financial blow to the violent gangs.

The confiscated hauls are worth an average of €3,000 to €5,000 each at street prices, and the gangs are left footing the bill after paying their suppliers overseas.

Their financial woes have been worsened by the seizure of a substantial four-figure sum of cash following a garda operation last month.

Surveillance

The gangsters are also experiencing difficulties in collecting outstanding debts from their 'customers' as the general restrictions on public movement have left them more open to surveillance by garda units.

"The cash collectors no longer have the cover provided by busy roads," an investigating officer said.

"We know who most of the main collectors are and the vehicles they use, and it has become easier to track their movements when they try to become mobile.

"They've been exploiting youngsters to make many of the collections, but when the debtors can't or won't pay, the gang members have to come out themselves to put the pressure on."

Th shortage of cash is also hampering their ability to obtain new weapons that cannot be linked forensically to other shootings to carry out hits on their rivals.

The thugs are continuing to maintain limited targeting of their rivals, as evidenced last week by an attempt to attack a friend of feud murder victim Keane Mulready-Woods at his home.

The pal is alleged to owe a five-figure drugs debt and is also a target because of his links to the teenager, who was murdered last January.

His body was dismembered in Drogheda and the remains were found in Dublin.

He became the latest victim of the feud, which has so far claimed three lives and involves criminals with connections in counties Louth, Meath and Dublin.

Gardai believe the killers intended to dump his remains at the homes of the main players of the gang with which he was involved.

They suspect the plan was aborted after unconnected garda activity in the Coolock area "spooked" the thugs, who hurriedly disposed of the remains.

Many of the main players, particularly those either involved in the planning or execution of previous attacks, are now said to be "offside".

Garda intelligence suggests some of the key gangsters are outside the country after becoming stranded by restrictions on travel imposed by authorities following the virus outbreak.

Some are understood to be lying low in Spain after flying there to make contact with their overseas suppliers to arrange a new consignment of drugs.

"It was relatively easy in the past for these guys to leave their homes on this side of the border, travel to Northern Ireland and catch a flight to mainland Europe," an investigator said.

"But now they're grounded and, in the case of some of them, it looks like they're going to be stuck overseas for a while."

The whereabouts of one of the key players, who is regarded as a "gun for hire", is not known, although there are several theories about his location.