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Gardai swoop to catch jail mobile phone smugglers

SOURCES say that a huge drugs and mobile phone distribution network has been "severely disrupted" after the arrest of two criminals and a major manhunt for another man after Friday night's operation.

And prison sources believe that 'Del Boy' Hutch's (pictured) crew and the McCarthy/Dundon gang will be livid at the interception of the drugs and phones.



OFFENCES

'Del Boy' Hutch (26) is serving jail sentences totalling 15 years for firearms, manslaughter and theft-related offences.

He is one of Ireland's most notorious criminals and is a nephew of suspected criminal mastermind Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch. The McCarthy/Dundons instigated the deadly Limerick feud which claimed over a dozen victims until gardai broke the gang up last year.

Some of its most senior members are housed in the Midlands Prison.

Armed detectives pounced in Portlaoise, Co Laois, on Friday night after receiving information that a haul of drugs and phones was to be thrown into the Midlands Prison.

Investigations have established that the contraband was destined for associates of Hutch and the McCarthy/Dundon gang.

Sources believe that these two criminal groupings have been using a notorious local drug dealer and criminals from the Sherriff Street area of the capital to throw drugs and phones into the jail for them over recent months.

But on Friday night, detectives from Portlaoise Garda Station lay in wait in a field behind the Midlands Prison and intercepted the mob before they were able to throw the contraband into the jail.

Quantities of heroin, cannabis and anti-depressants were seized but officers say it is the seizure of 14 mobile phones that will hurt the jailed gangsters most.

Because of increased security measures in jails, mobile phones in the prison system are now scarce meaning that phones are now worth up to a staggering €1,500 each, inside the jail system.

Sources say that gangs like the Hutch mob and Limerick's McCarthy/Dundon gang hire out phones for around €80 a day in jail to other criminals but if the mobiles are seized, the person caught with them is liable for a bill of up to €1,500 to the gangs who control the phones.

"What happened at the weekend is a serious financial set-back for these organised crime organisations. It is being considered a great result," a senior source said.

A north inner city Dublin man in his mid 20's was arrested at the scene in possession of the contraband in a large bag. He was released without charge yesterday but a file will be sent to the DPP and charges are likely in the future.



fled

Two other men fled the scene but gardai have established the identity of one of these.

He is a notorious local drug dealer -- also aged in his mid 20's -- who is understood to have been organising the smuggling racket. His home was raided by detectives on Saturday and crucial evidence was seized.

This 27-year-old man has served multiple jail sentences including separate sentences for dealing heroin and ecstasy as well as for armed robberies and joyriding.

It is while in jail that the Portlaoise man is understood to have made close connections with 'Del Boy' Hutch's crew and the McCarthy/Dundon mob.

Both organisations have been involved in a string of murders as well as major league drugs trafficking.

hnews@herald.ie