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Thursday 14 December 2017

Kinahan cartel dealt third blow as house raid nets €3m drugs and rifle

The raided bungalow in Sallins, Co Kildare, sealed off by armed officers
The raided bungalow in Sallins, Co Kildare, sealed off by armed officers

The Kinahan drugs cartel is cracking under increased pressure from gardai and making costly mistakes.

A third major blow was dealt to the bungling gangsters after gardai seized €3m worth of drugs and an assault rifle during a massive raid.

Detectives are working on the theory that the stash was hidden in a Co Kildare house because the arrogant criminals believed it was a safe location after it was raided by officers last week.

The detached dormer bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac on the Sallins Bridge estate was the focus of garda attention last Tuesday, the same day as a major guns find in a business park unit in Rathcoole.

Four people were arrested as a result of that find and three have since been charged with gun possession.

Targeting

The raids are part of an ongoing operation targeting the Kinahan cartel, which is embroiled in a bloody feud with the Hutch family, based in the north inner city.

The house in Sallins was raided again on Saturday night when an AK-47 rifle, 30kg of cocaine and heroin and a number of rounds of ammunition for different firearms were discovered.

"This house had been under surveillance for a long time and maybe this gang thought that because it was raided last week the gardai would be finished with it," a senior source told the Herald.

"But the surveillance did not end there and there was activity at the house since so it was raided again and the drugs and gun and ammunition were found."

Gardai believe that using the same house, knowing it was raided only days before, shows how desperate the gang has become in moving and hiding their weapons, cash and drugs.

"They're under huge pressure and this is evidenced by panicky behaviour as they try to find out where gardai are getting their success from," said the source.

The property in Sallins has been rented for five years.

Neighbours said the occupants kept to themselves but always drove expensive cars that were changed often.

"There was never any trouble. We're all shocked, to be honest," said one local resident.

Gardai said officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau supported by the Special Crime Task Force seized a firearm along with large quantities of suspected controlled drugs during the operation.

An assault rifle similar, ammunition for a number of guns and around €3m worth of suspected heroin and cocaine were recovered.

The drugs were in one-kilo blocks, and it is believed there was 20kg of cocaine and 30kg of heroin.

The latest seizures represent the third major setback for the cartel in recent weeks.

On January 20, gardai seized cannabis worth an estimated €37m at Dublin Port - more than the value of cannabis seized in the previous two years.

It was concealed in steel boxes declared as tractor parts and is believed to have been paid for by a number of gangs who clubbed together.

Paranoid

The seizure of such a massive haul of drugs is thought to have led gangland criminals on a paranoid hunt for a mole within their ranks.

This belief that there is a rat in the camp has led to fears of further gangland attacks.

The second blow came with the Rathcoole raid and follow- up searches of houses.

Gardai had been monitoring the lock-up at the Greenogue Business Park for some time in the belief there were guns or drugs within it, but they were forced to bust it last Tuesday when they spotted an increase in activity leading them to believe a massive hit was being planned.

Their fears were confirmed when 15 weapons were seized, some of which were loaded.

Follow-up searches resulted in tens of thousands of euro being seized in houses.

Some was in the form of cash but more was found in bank accounts that have now been frozen.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) will now be able to examine the flow into and out of these accounts to build up a wider picture of the cartel's financial dealings.

It is hoped this will provide a bigger and clearer picture of its operations nationally and internationally and lead to more arrests.

The Sallins property remained sealed off yesterday and guarded by members of the Armed Support Unit.

Garda technicians carried out a forensic examination of the property and a number of items of evidence were removed from the house for further analysis. No arrests have been made and inquiries continue.

Neighbours said they were shocked to learn that the raid could be connected to the ongoing murderous Kinahan and Hutch feud.

"It's hard enough to get your head around the fact that there's a gun and drugs and bullets in that house, but what if someone wanted to target whoever brought them here, in a quiet cul-de-sac full of children?" said one young mother.

Innocent

"I know it's a cliche you read all the time that the places where these things happen are quiet neighbourhoods, but this is just that, a quiet street.

"We have heard and seen before how completely innocent people have been killed in this feud.

"The last thing you would want to think about is what would happen if there was a gun battle in the street or innocent people being targeted by mistake because of a car that might have been parked outside their house."

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