Maguire pal's attack on mob woman sparked feud terror on streets of town
The gangland feud in Drogheda which has seen more than 70 violent attacks and shootings was sparked by an assault on a woman linked to one of the warring gangs, gardai believe.
Three attempted murders, along with dozens of petrol bomb attacks and punishment beatings, have been directly linked to the violence in the town between two gangs.
Armed gardai have also been drafted in to patrol the area on a 24/7 basis while a special policing plan, Operation Stratus, has also been launched in response to the vendetta.
Sources have told the Herald that the violence was ignited after a woman was allegedly assaulted by an associate of mob boss Owen Maguire.
She was linked to the gang feuding with the Maguire faction and claimed to have been assaulted in early 2018.
This, gardai believe, led to an escalation in tensions between two gangs who were already rivals in the local drug trade.
"There were always tensions between the two gangs who were vying for control of the drugs turf in Drogheda," a source told the Herald.
"This assault was the spark that really ignited the feud which has been going on for the past year."
Since last June, 74 violent incidents have been directly linked to the escalating feud - including assaults, shootings and petrol bomb attacks.
One of the mobs is led by a 24-year-old criminal who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
He has been living in a number of properties in Drogheda because of the threat to his life and also drives a number of luxury cars.
Last November, a viable pipe bomb was placed in the exhaust of a car belonging to the mobster's innocent girlfriend.
Gardai believe he leads a gang of more than 30 associates, including several women and teenagers.
The outfit has links across three counties, with its main base in Drogheda, as well as having connections in Meath and north Dublin.
A 21-year-old relative of the mob boss is believed to be his 'number 2' in charge and the gang also has close links to a number of criminals from the capital.
Another senior gang member is a 23-year-old criminal who was only released from prison in February.
The man is suspected of carrying out a number of petrol bomb attacks and has been arrested over the shooting of Brendan Maguire, the brother of mob boss Owen, in February.
Gardai suspect that Owen Maguire leads a crime gang of close to 20 people, as well as having links to Dublin criminal Cornelius Price.
Officers have been carrying out a number of searches both in Drogheda and in Ashbourne ahead of Price's release from prison in the coming weeks.
In a significant seizure last week, gardai found a firearm and components for nine pipe bombs, linked to the Maguire faction.
Garda management has admitted that the gangland feud is taking "considerable strain" on resources in Drogheda and across Louth.
A letter sent in early April from Assistant Garda Commissioner Barry O'Brien to TD Fergus O'Dowd, seen by the Herald, details that Operation Stratus was set up specifically to target two "organised crime groups operating primarily in Drogheda".
"While the ongoing criminal emergence of this dispute has placed considerable strain on the resources of the Drogheda district and Louth division, local garda management closely monitors the allocation of all resources in place on a district, divisional and regional level to ensure optimum use is made of the garda resources, and the best possible garda service is provided to the public, and this situation is kept under constant review," Mr O'Brien said in the letter.
Fine Gael TD Mr O'Dowd has been calling for extra garda resources for Drogheda in recent months.
He said at least 36 additional gardai were needed for the town.