Gardai have uncovered a massive criminal operation led by an arms dealer based in Co Laois who has close links to the deadly McCarthy-Dundon gang.
The mob is suspected of providing a loaded Glock handgun to a 39-year-old man who had travelled from a location in Co Cork to collect the deadly weapon on Monday afternoon.
Detectives suspect that the gun was used as part of a simmering Traveller feud in Cork but an intelligence-led operation was put in place which led to the man's arrest on Monday.
The man, who is considered a "nobody" in terms of organised crime is suspected as acting as a "gopher" for the violent gang.
The arrested man, who is from the Charleville area, was still being questioned at Portlaoise Garda Station last night and gardai are hopeful of securing charges.
Gardai announced details of the bust on Monday night.
"As part of an intelligence-led operation conducted by gardai in Portlaoise attached to the District Detective Unit and District Drugs Unit, a car was stopped early this afternoon Monday, July 6, 2020, on the M7 at Clonkeen, Portlaoise, Co Laois," a garda spokeswoman said.
"Gardai carried out a search of the car and a Glock 17 handgun with ammunition was found and seized."
The gang which is suspected of supplying the handgun is also believed to have major involvement in drug trafficking, as well as organised burglaries.
Originally from Limerick, the gang is understood to use its location in the midlands beside a major motorway network to traffic guns and drugs across the country to multiple gangs - not just Traveller mobs.
The McCarthy-Dundon gang still has a serious presence in Ireland despite many of its main leaders being locked up.
Brothers Wayne, Dessie and John Dundon are all serving life sentences for murder.
Younger close associates of the brothers were arrested in April by the PSNI before being released without charge when they were questioned about the murder of their associate, hitman Robbie Lawlor, in Belfast.
Two women with close links to the gang were arrested days after Lawlor's murder on the M7 after being caught with €50,000 cash that was part payment for the brutal gun killing in Belfast.
They were released and a file will be prepared for the DPP.
Last month, a man previously described as the leader of the McCarthy-Dundon gang appeared in court charged in relation to the attempted murder of a rival.
Larry McCarthy, of Tower Lodge, Old Cork Road, Limerick city, was one of two men who were brought before the Special Criminal Court.
A source said: "This criminal organisation has been seriously weakened... but it is still a major force."
"The arms and drug dealers operating from Co Laois are a sub-cell of the criminal leaders who are now locked up in jail," the source added.