DUBLIN’S biggest gang boss, ‘The Don’, may have fled the country, gardai believe.
The criminal is reported to have flown out to Spain earlier this week.
He left after his gang became the suspects in the murder of Coolock traveller John Paul Joyce, who was abducted and shot two weeks ago.
It is unclear whether The Don will return for a forthcoming sentencing date, where he is facing the prospect of being imprisoned on serious charges.
According to senior sources, the Finglas-based criminal left north Dublin at the start of the week, and travelled to the Costa del Sol.
The man has extensive contacts on the continent, among both expat Irish and foreign criminals.
His departure came after one of his homes was raided by armed gardai a fortnight ago, following a gun attack in the city. The homes of a number of The Don's associates were also targeted.
According to sources the gangster has left the country "until the heat dies down".
One officer said: "The intelligence reports are that he has left for a number of days. It is unclear when he will return, but he is due to face sentencing soon. It's unlikely he'll go on the run in Spain, that would be just putting off the inevitable."
The Don, who was a former pal of Marlo Hyland, heads a gang which has been linked to over a dozen murders over the past four years. He is not a suspect for carrying out any of the killings, and the murders are believed to have been committed by junior gang members.
In the process, the outfit has reportedly taken over control of drug supply to large swathes of the Dublin's northside and its members are greatly feared among criminals in the capital.
Gangland tensions are running high in north Dublin following the murder of criminal John Paul Joyce, whose body was discovered shot and dumped at Dublin Airport last Saturday week. Joyce, who was known as a drug dealer, had been abducted and taken to the area where he was shot.
An innocent man was kidnapped and threatened days later in an incident linked to the Joyce murder. He escaped from his captors by running from their car in Clondalkin.
Reports of The Don's move to Spain follows revelations this week that serious crime detectives are investigating alleged contact between members of his gang and a garda at a north Dublin station. It is alleged that the garda allowed two members of The Don's gang to access a room at the station and check the internal force computer system, PULSE.
Confidential information, both "hard" in terms of court appearances and offences, and "soft", concerning the movements of criminals and persons of interest, are collated on the internal garda PULSE system.
The garda has been placed under investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation following the reports but no charges have been brought to date.