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28 members of gang prosecuted in Garda swoop

ALMOST 30 key members of a huge organised crime group have been charged and prosecuted as a result of a massive Garda operation.

Operation Oak was set up to target crime boss Martin "Marlo" Hyland, who ran a large crime syndicate, involved in a raft of serious crime, including wholesale drug and gun trafficking and armed robbery.

Hyland, aged 39, was the boss of the outfit and according to one Garda source "pulled all the strings".

He was shot dead at his niece’s house in Scribblestown Park in Finglas in December 2006.

The gunmen also shot dead an innocent bystander, Anthony Campbell, aged just 20, who happened to be working in the house at the time.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern told the Dáil this week that Operation Oak was set up in November 2005 to target Hyland.

"The subject of this investigation was considered at that time to be a senior figure in an organised criminal group and his suspected activities included armed robbery, the importation and distribution of drugs and firearms, theft of vehicles, tax evasion, etc."

He said some 28 key members of this organised criminal group have so far been charged and brought before the courts, with a number of them receiving lengthy prison sentences.

Mr Ahern said the remainder were awaiting trial for serious offences, including attempted robbery and the importation and sale of illegal drugs.

Garda sources confirmed yesterday that Operation Oak was still ongoing as there was a few court cases yet to be heard.

About 45 people were arrested in the operation, which netted more than €10 million worth of drugs and the seizure of firearms and ammunition.

The Criminal Assets Bureau are still following the wealth of Hyland and in July 2007 seized four houses associated with him, worth in the region of €2m.

Gardaí are satisfied they know who murdered Hyland and Campbell and that investigation is ongoing.

The two gunmen turned on Hyland after they were caught in some of the Garda operations against the gang.

Most of Hyland’s drug operations have since been taken over by a former lieutenant from Finglas.