A VETERAN crimelord who controls illegal smuggling of cigarettes into Ireland is making a fortune from his well organised enterprise despite being based on Spain's Costa-Del-Crime.
Yesterday we revealed that customs officers have been forced to wear stab vests while on the lookout for smuggled cigarettes in Dublin city centre, such is the level of threats of violence from runners connected to the expat Ballyfermot crimelord.
Senior sources have revealed that, while he controls operations from his villa close to the resort of Fuengirola, his son has taken over the 'day-to-day business' in Ireland. Their operation is thought to be worth as much as €10m.
Detectives have been actively monitoring the son's movements and have established that he has been linked to a number of threats to kill rival criminals, particularly in west Dublin.
Gardai received intelligence in January that his millionaire dad, who is in his 50s, invested a five-figure sum in a west Dublin pub, which has been the scene of a number of violent incidents over the years.
The gangster – a long-term target of the Criminal Assets Bureau – has made millions from smuggling illegal cigarettes over the past two decades.
He was arrested in relation to a gangland murder in Ballyfermot in the 1990s, but was released without charge.
A senior source explained: "He is one of the most feared and respected men involved in organised crime in Ireland.
"The likes of Eric 'Lucky' Wilson, who is linked to loads of murders, would ask how high if this man told him to jump.
"Apart from his criminal business, he runs a number of profitable legitimate businesses and has a large property portfolio in Dublin and Spain."
Evidence of the scale of the illegal cigarette market was shown last October when a chilled container carrying €3.1m worth of cigarettes was seized at Dublin Port.
Customs said about eight million cigarettes were seized.
With a criminal pedigree going back years, the gangster built up a reputation as a money launderer for the Provisional IRA in the 1980s and 1990s.
He came to prominence in 2010, when he became involved in a feud with the Real IRA faction then led by slain terror boss Alan Ryan.
This feud led to two murders and a notorious incident at the Player's Lounge pub in Fairview, north Dublin, in July, 2010, in which three innocent men were shot.
It is suspected that the Ballyfermot gangster ordered the botched hit in an attempt to kill Ryan.
Ryan's murder last September has nothing to do with the veteran Ballyfermot hood.
But back in July 2010, gardai had major concerns after the Ballyfermot gangster's pal, Colm 'Collie' Owens (34), was shot dead at the Corn Store, an animal feed warehouse, on the Grove industrial estate in Finglas as part of the dispute.
In a revenge attack, Keith Wilson (25) murdered Daniel Gaynor (25) in Finglas the following month.
Gaynor's murder led to a huge increase in garda activity surrounding the players in the feud and it is believed that at some stage in the autumn of 2010 a truce was called.
It is thought that one faction, most likely the Ballyfermot mob, paid the other a sum of cash to end to hostilities.
Last year, the crimelord's crew got involved in a separate feud with the Continuity IRA, which led to one murder and a number of shootings.