GARDAI have struck a major blow against gangland crime with the arrest of a drug dealer with close links to the late crime boss Eamon Dunne.
The high-ranking crime figure was among eight people who were taken into custody during a drugs bust.
Sources say that the dealer had strong ties with Dunne, better known as 'The Don', before his murder last year.
Gardai believe that the arrests mark a hugely significant development in their battle against organised crime.
The man was running his operation from Meath but is originally from a Dublin suburb.
The well-planned garda operation was led by the Organised Crime Unit, backed up by the National Drugs Unit.
Armed detectives moved in as a consignment of 30kg of cannabis herb, with a street value of more than €360,000, was being shifted between two vehicles in a car park in Celbridge in north Kildare on Tuesday evening.
Officers said some of those detained were regarded as significant players on the drug-trafficking scene in Dublin and in the North.
Of the eight taken into custody, two are foreign nationals and one is a woman. The main suspect is understood to have close links to organised crime in the Finglas area of west Dublin.
Also detained were a suspected courier from Cork and two men from Down and Antrim.
Shortly after the initial raid, officers moved in on an apartment at Castle Gate in Adamstown, outside Lucan, and recovered another 25kg of cannabis herb, with a street value of around €300,000.
All of the drugs had been hidden in suitcases and bags.
Arrested at the apartment were a Dubliner, currently living in the Duleek area of Co Meath, but thought to have been operating in the past around Finglas; an Albanian man; a Greek woman; and another suspect from Templeogue.
Gardai said some of the drugs were probably headed for the North and the rest intended for distribution here. They said the operation was aimed at drug-trafficking gangs feeding the Dublin and Leinster markets.
Gardai said the seizures resulted from a lengthy operation. They were also investigating the origins of the seized cannabis and the route used.