herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Gardai fire five shots at car as foiled Kinahan hitman tries to mow them down

Gardai at the scene after a van was rammed by an unmarked garda car
Gardai at the scene after a van was rammed by an unmarked garda car

A massive manhunt was continuing last night for a criminal who drove an SUV at gardai, leading them to fire five shots during an operation targeting the deadly Kinahan gang.

A 27-year-old Cabra man - described as a "wannabe hitman" for the cartel - remained in custody last night at Ballyfermot Garda Station.

He was arrested during the planned intelligence-led operation at Kylemore Way, Inchi- core, at 3pm yesterday.

Gardai believe a two-man hit team were extremely close to their intended target when officers swooped.

A senior source said members of the Special Crime Task Force were acting on intelligence when they spotted a white Citroen van that failed to stop for them in the Jamestown Road area.

Rammed

A loaded handgun with a silencer attached that was wrapped in a Dunnes Stores plastic bag was thrown from the van as armed officers chased the gangsters.

The pursuit came to an abrupt end when the van drove into a cul-de-sac and the unmarked garda car rammed into the side of it.

It is understood that detectives then arrested the Cabra man after he was ordered to get out of the van.

A second man who was in the vehicle fled to an SUV, which was parked nearby.

Seconds later, the SUV was driven at speed towards the Special Crime Task Force off-icers, as well as the arrested man, leading them to fire five shots at it.

The gun with silencer
The gun with silencer

"Garda lives were on the line here, but even the arrested man was under peril from his associate," a source said. "The SUV was driven at them with murderous intent.

"Gardai felt they had no choice but than to fire shots. They were trying to put the arrested man in a garda car when this happened."

The SUV, which was recovered in Ballyfermot close to the scene of the arrest, had five bullet holes in it.

The man who drove at gardai is understood to have fled from the vehicle on foot.

Officers from the garda's Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) had earlier received intelligence about the van and its links to a murder planned by the cartel.

This led to the bureau's Special Crime Task Force being dispatched to the area, and officers moved in on the van when their suspicions were aroused.

Gardai at the scene
Gardai at the scene

Injured

No one was injured in yesterday's incident, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission because shots were fired by officers.

The discarded loaded handgun was seen by a group of onlookers, who joked to a detective that "it's a nice Christmas present for somebody" as he moved to retrieve it.

The suspect in custody last night is well-known to gardai and has more than 50 convictions for road traffic offences, drugs, violent disorder and criminal damage.

He has served a number of jail sentences for violent offences but was not considered an active member of the Kinahan cartel, who have driven the capital's deadly gangland feud that has claimed 12 lives so far.

"The best description of this fella really is that he is a wannabe hitman," a senior source said last night.

"However, he was arrested in an operation in which a fully loaded gun was found and was ready to be used.

"Gardai are in no doubt that yesterday's operation has saved a person's life.

"It is understood the intended target of this murder is based in the Ballyfermot area and the hit was sanctioned by the Kinahan cartel.

"Yesterday's arrest shows just how desperate the cartel has become - this individual is a nobody in terms of organised crime.

"He is a highly reckless, violent criminal. It's clear that this mob are rapidly running out of hitmen."

The 27-year-old is a close associate of a serious criminal from Cabra, who is on the run over serious firearm offences.

His older friend is facing multiple charges after gardai made a massive weapons seizure against the cartel last year in north Dublin, in which machine guns and ammunition were recovered.

Yesterday's foiled hit is the latest blow to the embattled Kinahan cartel as the garda campaign against them intensifies.

Last weekend, gardai seized more than €820,000 in cash from one of the mob's most trusted bagmen.

Fixer

Members of the DOCB pounced on the cartel associate as he met with a truck driver at a service station in Naas, Co Kildare, at 10pm last Friday.

In total, almost €830,000 in cash was recovered, while a high-powered car worth more than €50,000 was also seized. The significant operation led to the arrest of a 34-year-old man.

Gardai suspect that the gangland fixer was in the process of handing over more than €820,000 to the truck driver, who was then due to take the cash to the continent.

The Kinahan associate and the 44-year-old trucker, who is originally from Co Sligo, were arrested on suspicion of money-laundering offences and taken to Naas Garda Station.

They were held for more than 24 hours before being released without charge in the early hours of Sunday.

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