Gardai believe a 33-year-old man, whose dismembered body was found in the Grand Canal, was murdered by a west Dublin crime gang over missing drugs cash.
The new twist in the investigation emerged last night after gardai also received information that slain father-of-one Kenneth O'Brien had been laundering cash for the gang and had recently been seen in the area where his body was found.
"This investigation is a lot closer to organised crime than gardai realised earlier in the week. The victim was involved in organised crime and was strongly connected to a significant gang," a source told the Herald.
"In fact, investigations have established that he had been seen in the Ardclough area of Co Kildare on a number of occasions prior to his disappearance."
It is understood that Mr O'Brien had left Ireland for Australia, owing the gang a significant cash sum which he was due to "launder" for them, according to sources.
He then returned home during the Christmas period and when he decided to stay in Dublin, the gang planned and carried out his murder, which is believed to have taken place on Friday night of last week.
The west Dublin drugs mob that O'Brien is suspected of working for is based in Clondalkin and was previously involved in a bitter murderous feud in that area.
Gardai searching for the rest of Mr O'Brien's remains discovered €50,000 worth of ecstasy tablets in a farmyard yesterday, which sources say may be connected to the brutal murder gang.
The mutilated remains of the father-of-one were taken from the canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare on Saturday afternoon.
While gardai previously said that he was not aware of any death threat, it has emerged that the victim and some of his acquaintances had been receiving threatening texts which may have been linked to his personal life.
Gardai have investigated a large amount of "complicated" relationships that he was involved in, but have now concluded that the strongest line in the probe is that he is a gangland murder victim.
Yesterday evening, gardai carried out a number of checkpoints in the Ardclough area in a bid to get additional information.