herald

Thursday 15 November 2018

Exclusive: Gardai flood gang's turf to foil murder

Gardai saturated areas in Bettystown and Laytown to prevent a murder
Gardai saturated areas in Bettystown and Laytown to prevent a murder

Gardai were forced to put in place a special "intervention plan" to prevent a murder in Ireland's latest gangland feud.

Officers received key information that a very close associate of Owen Maguire (34) - who was left paralysed after being shot a number of times in Drogheda in July - was due to be shot dead.

The rival gang was planning to carry out the attack in Bettystown, Co Meath, on a night at the end of last month but the plan was foiled after officers drew up a special policing plan.

Saturated

"Gardai saturated the Bettystown and Laytown areas with armed officers and other gardai. The plan worked because the gang could not get near their target," a senior source told the Herald.

"The information was that the Drogheda gang was using a couple of local lads who owe them figures like €5,000 for drugs to carry out the hit on Maguire's close associate. Because of the amount of gardai deployed in the area, the gang changed their mind.

"But this feud remains very serious and still has the potential for multiple murders. Meath and Louth gardai, as well as specialist units, worked together to prevent this guy from being shot dead. It is fair to say gardai saturated the area."

The target of the planned execution is a drug dealer and senior gang member in his mid-30s who is suspected of "active involvement" in a sickening incident in August, 2016, when the grave of Willie Maughan's brother was dug up at Bohernabreena Cemetery in Tallaght.

The sinister incident came only a day after the family appealed for information to help find the remains of Mr Maughan and his pregnant girlfriend Ana Varslavane.

It is suspected the tragic couple were murdered by the gang after they went missing on April 14, 2015, in Gormanston, Co Meath, but Maguire is not a suspect in the double murder.

Mr Maughan's family are not involved in the bitter feud with Maguire and his crew.

The "intervention plan" in Bettystown happened less than a fortnight after gardai foiled an imminent murder in the feud when they recovered a handgun and made four arrests in Drogheda.

"Gardai believe that this handgun was to be used in an imminent murder attempt on a member of the rival faction who are associated with Owen Maguire," a senior source told the Herald last night.

Maguire's crew has been in a "state of disarray" since the 34-year-old was paralysed after being shot multiple times in July at his Drogheda home as part of a bitter row with a Drogheda-based crime gang closely associated with a number of north Dublin mobsters.

The firearms seizure happened just days after gardai seized almost €270,000 in cash and €5k of cocaine from associates of still-hospitalised Maguire.

All the cash, which is primarily believed to be the proceeds of drug dealing, was in €50 notes and was found stashed in a roof by local officers acting on specific intelligence.

Gardai said there had been no arrests in the cash-seizure case and enquiries were ongoing.

With no sign of the Drogheda feud ending, senior sources have revealed more and more people are being sucked into the ongoing problem, including a 27-year-old Co Meath-based man who was previously arrested in August 2017 for a botched murder attempt on Hutch gang associate James 'Mago' Gately three months earlier.

Fortified

This criminal is now living in a fortified flat in the capital's south inner city.

The most serious incident so far was the attempted murder of miracle gangland survivor Maguire who was blasted six times in a reckless handgun attack in which he sustained horrific injuries just after midnight on July 5.

However, there have also been two bomb attacks which are suspected of being carried out by Maguire's rivals and another significant firearm seizure which was linked to Maguire's crew - all in the space of just four weeks.

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