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Gardai say leader of armed-raid gang is female ex-soldier

DETECTIVES who smashed a Dublin armed robbery gang believe a woman was the leader.

The young woman is a former soldier and the driving force behind the cash-in-transit raiders. She was one of four suspects detained (inset) when the ERU swooped on the robbers as they tried to grab cash from security officers at a south Dublin shopping centre.



"This young woman has a serious reputation in the Dublin drugs scene," a source told the Herald. "She's ventured out into armed robbery recently and is the brains behind the outfit. "She spent time in the army and trained her male associates in firearms use and tactics."



Another suspect is understood to be a notorious gun criminal who was released from jail late last year.

The man was freed less than three years into a five-year sentence for an armed robbery.

The drug addict was jailed in 2009 after pleading guilty to entering a Dublin pub with a hood over his face brandishing a sawn-off shot gun.

Two gardai attended the scene during the robbery, one climbing a wall at the back of the pub before gaining access to the bar.

As they approached the raider, he pointed a gun at an unarmed officer who reacted quickly and disarmed him.

A loaded shotgun was seized at the scene.

A number of years previously, the suspect was jailed after he and an associate robbed €14,000 from the same bar.

Dramatic photos published in the Herald yesterday showed the moment armed detectives captured the infamous armed robbery gang.

Elite officers lay in wait for the raiders and then swooped in a Southside suburb.

It signalled the force's long-awaited response to the capital's growing robbery and burglary epidemic.

A brother and sister were among those arrested in the operation involving the crack Emergency Response Unit SWAT team.

Witnesses described gardai, guns drawn, ordering the raiders to "get down, get down".

Gardai have been under enormous pressure to show a response to the seemingly endless increase in crime against property.



operation

The swoop -- in which a silver BMW X5 penned in the raiders' car from the rear -- is the result of a lengthy surveillance operation by garda units.

Sources said the gang was Tallaght-based and was relatively new to the crime scene.

But its members are believed to have hit previously when deliveries were being made to ATMs at busy shopping locations.

"A brother and sister are among the four being held.

"She was detained a short distance away from the scene at Knocklyon and we understand that her role was to be that of getaway driver," said a source.

The gang was pounced on at Knocklyon shopping centre at 4pm on Thursday, just as a cash van was about to make a delivery to the post office.

Teams of plain-clothes armed officers blocked the Audi car as it drove towards the post office in the Superquinn car park.

After pulling across in front of the Audi, the armed gardai swooped, pointing their weapons into it and smashing the driver's window before dragging three men from it.

With guns trained on each of them, the suspects were forced to the ground before being handcuffed.

The four were taken to garda stations in Tallaght and Rathfarnham where they were still being detained last night.

hnews@herald.ie