Gardai show mobster Price 'who's boss' as pal is held
Gardai are adopting an 'in-your-face' style policing strategy to deal with the return to Ireland of gang boss Cornelius Price and his associates.
As the Herald revealed yesterday, Price - who had been in England - is back after one of his gangland rivals threatened to kill a close female relative of his.
However, the garda get-tough policy saw members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) detain his right-hand man in a major operation in Balbriggan on Thursday, which began at around 7.25pm.
The 36-year-old thug and a female pal were detained when the criminal "resisted" a drugs search on the street.
Senior sources revealed the duo were then brought to Balbriggan Garda Station for the purpose of a search but no drugs were found on them.
While the pair were being detained at the station, gardai quickly managed to obtain a search warrant for the criminal's apartment.
Again no drugs or weapons were found, but sources said that gardai "turned the place upside down".
Price's right-hand man and the woman, who is an English national, were both released without charge late on Thursday night.
"With Cornelius Price back in the country, gardai are going to conduct many more operations like this in the coming days against his close associates," a source told the Herald.
"The ASU were used in Thursday night's investigation because these targeted individuals have ready access to firearms.
"This is all about showing who is boss and it is fair to say that it is 'in-your-face' policing," the source added.
Price's mate is extremely well-known to gardai and in February last year, US Drug Enforcement agents worked with elite Dutch police and gardai to secure his arrest in relation to a €220,000 drugs cash seizure in the Netherlands.
The English-born criminal, who has been based in Balbriggan, was the third Irish gangster to be arrested in the Netherlands as part of the operation.
However, none of the trio was ever charged in relation to the operation.
The criminal is a key member of Price's gang and has been investigated for the 2014 feud murder of Benny Whitehouse in Balbriggan.
A major garda alert has been in place since Price returned to Ireland last weekend.
The feared mobster (38) has been 'holed up' in his compound in Gormanston, Co Meath, since last Sunday after he received information that there were plans to shoot a female relative of his.
Price had been based between Manchester and Birmingham since the summer after he was released from Wheatfield Prison, where he served three years for reckless endangerment of a garda.
To avoid garda attention, Price - nicknamed 'Nelly Boy' - travelled home from Belfast via Scotland and officers only became aware that he was back two days after his return.