herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Deadly weapons seized in raid on drugs gang

Gardai found weapons including a samurai sword as part of their operation targeting a criminal organisation
Gardai found weapons including a samurai sword as part of their operation targeting a criminal organisation

These are the lethal weapons seized by heavily armed gardai targeting a drugs gang once linked to the deadly Limerick feud which claimed at least 13 lives.

The weapons, which included a samurai sword and a number of hatchets, were being used in an intimidation campaign against a number of addicts over outstanding drug debts.

The gang, which includes several family members, have also been involved in a dispute with the notorious Keane/Collopy gang.

Dispute

The two mobs had previously been closely associated but a number of serious death threats were made against a criminal in his 50s, which eventually led to members of the Keane/Collopy faction being jailed.

The internal dispute between the associates began with an outstanding debt over a horse, and escalated when an official complaint was made against an associate of the Collopy faction to gardai.

As part of an operation targeting the gang, officers from the city's Armed Support Unit raided a suspected Limerick drug den earlier this month.

Officers recovered the large cache of weapons as well as a small amount of cannabis herb.

A further search was carried out of the property two days later and a further two hunting knives were found.

The seizure has been described as a "significant" local operation to prevent any bloodshed or loss of life, but gardai believe that the gang have access to firearms.

"This gang has been very active in the Limerick crime scene over the last two decades. They have managed to escape any major criminal convictions but gardai are very aware of what they're capable of," a source said.

Christy Keane has been keeping a low profile
Christy Keane has been keeping a low profile

"This operation was significant to ensure that deadly weapons are taken out of the hands of individuals involved in organised criminality," the source added.

Two of the gang's main associates, aged in their 30s and 50s, were previously investigated over a 2001 murder in the city.

However, neither man was ever convicted in relation to the killing.

Bounty

The thug in his 50s is well-known to gardai in Limerick and has more than 30 previous criminal convictions.

Despite his involvement in criminality he was afforded 24-garda protection after agreeing to give some evidence against his former associates.

He claimed at the time that a significant bounty had been placed on his head.

Gardai managed to jail a number of senior Limerick criminals as a result of the man's testimony.

Gardai believe the Keane/Collopy mob has grown in recent years due to the demise of the rival McCarthy/Dundon mob, and is responsible for supplying drugs throughout the country, including some of the main crime gangs in the capital.

"The Keane/Collopy gang has gone about its business quietly but they are heavily involved in drug distribution. Gardai believe that they are even supplying some of the bigger drug gangs in Dublin, with the majority of their drugs coming through Cork," the source said.

Christy Keane has also been keeping a low profile in the area after he survived a hit in June 2015.

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