Notorious cartel gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson is desperate for money and has embarked on a major cash drive against lower-level drug dealers.
As a result, the small-time dealers are committing desperate crimes in an attempt to pay the mobster back.
The Herald has learned that a small-time south inner city-based dealer, who owes Thompson's cronies a debt of €16,000, has resorted to carrying out a series of shop robberies to get cash for the mob.
A senior source has revealed the "terrified" young man and one of his associates are now the chief suspects for a number of armed robberies of shops in the capital where sums between €300 and €500 have been typically robbed at knife-point.
"Thompson is in a bad way looking for money, and his associates are really putting the squeeze on anyone who owes them cash," the source said.
"The net effect of this is that desperate young fellas are carrying out robberies to get the money for Thompson because they are afraid of getting shot," the source added.
Thompson has been based between Dublin and Spain in recent weeks as the feud between his associates in the Kinahan cartel and the rival Hutch mob continues.
Sources say that Thompson is "fairly happy" about the regular armed garda checkpoints near his south inner city home because they give the thug a "strong level of protection".
Associates of Thompson are suspected of being behind a reckless incident last month which almost led to the murder of a four-year-old boy in Finglas, north Dublin.
The boy narrowly missed being hit by a stray bullet in the botched gangland hit while sitting in the back of his father's car in the Charlestown shopping centre in Finglas on April 8.
The gunman jumped from a vehicle which had driven into the car park in an attempt to murder rival criminal Kenneth Roche (25).
He fired a number of shots from a handgun, one of which penetrated another car, passing through a child seat containing the sleeping four-year-old boy, who escaped uninjured.
It is understood that Thompson had returned to Dublin from Spain just hours before the reckless shooting, but he is not considered a suspect in the case.
Thompson's most serious brush with the law happened when he served a 15-month sentence for violent disorder after an attack on another man at Morrissey's Pub on Cork Street on January 7, 2013.
He was extradited from Amsterdam in May 2014, before he received a 20-month sentence for his involvement in the vicious brawl.
Last February, he admitted the charge, which the court heard was sparked by a slagging match to which Thompson reacted by throwing a punch and a bottle.
After his release from jail last August, it emerged that Thompson had fallen out of favour with the Kinahan cartel and had been effectively disowned by them. He fled to England and was said to be in a "deeply isolated" position.
When his former best pal Gary Hutch was shot dead in Spain's Costa-Del-Crime last September, it was widely believed that Thompson would be the next to be targeted.
However, Thompson and the cartel made up and he is now back in favour with the mob's overlords and has been regularly spotted in the company of cartel kingpin Daniel Kinahan.
Thompson is the first cousin of gangster David Byrne (34), who was murdered in the shocking gun attack at the Regency Hotel in February.
He is also a first cousin of Liam Roe (35), who survived an attempted feud-related assassination in November outside the Red Cow Hotel.