'Life saved' as gardai swoop on armed thugs plotting feud murder
Gardai believe they foiled an imminent murder in Ireland's latest deadly gangland feud after they recovered a loaded handgun and made four arrests shortly after midnight yesterday.
Armed officers were involved in the planned operation when they raided a house in Oulster's Lane, Drogheda, Co Louth.
The bust was conducted by gardai investigating a bitter dispute that officers think could end up just as serious as the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud, which led to 15 murders.
"Gardai believe that this handgun was to be used in an imminent murder attempt on a member of the rival faction who are associated with Owen Maguire," a senior source told the Herald last night.
Maguire's crew has been in a "state of disarray" since the 34-year-old was paralysed after being shot multiple times last month at his home, as part of a bitter row with a Drogheda-based crime gang which is closely associated with a number of north Dublin mobsters.
Last night, two of the four people remained in custody at two separate Co Louth stations, where they were being questioned about the firearms seizure, while the other two were released without charge.
"A life was definitely saved here but gardai will continue to need to be on top of what is a very dangerous and escalating situation," a senior source said last night.
Yesterday morning's garda operation was just the latest in their attempts to target the warring gangs after they seized almost €270,000 of cash and €5,000 of cocaine from associates of still-hospitalised Maguire.
All the cash, which is primarily believed to be the proceeds of drug dealing, was in €50 notes and was found stashed in a roof by local officers, who were acting on specific intelligence, at the Mell halting estate in Drogheda on Thursday afternoon.
Gardai also said there had been no arrests in the cash seizure case and enquiries are ongoing.
With no sign of the Drogheda feud ending, senior sources have revealed that more and more people are being sucked into the ongoing warfare, including a 27-year-old Co Meath-based man who was previously arrested last August for a botched murder attempt on Hutch gang associate James 'Mago' Gately three months earlier.
The most serious incident so far was the attempted murder of Maguire, who was shot six times in a reckless handgun attack in which he sustained horrific injuries just after midnight on July 5.
However, there has also been two bomb attacks, which are suspected of being carried out by Maguire's rivals, and another significant firearms seizure.
Sources say that since Maguire was attacked, a rival mob led by a 23-year-old drug dealer from the town's Moneymore estate is now in "complete ascendency" in the feud.
It is this young thug's faction that the recently released 'Mago' shooter is aligned to, as well as other north Dublin criminals.