A Garda boss leading investigations into the murder of two young men has warned youths across the country that even low-level drug dealing “is enough” to get them killed.
In a plea, particularly to young men, assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy said any level of engagement with the drugs trade could end their lives.
A leading youth worker called for a “national conversation” on how to prevent young people getting sucked into gangs and the “level of violence” now associated with the drugs trade.
Eddie D’Arcy, a youth worker for more than 40 years and chief executive of the Solas Project, which works with serious young offenders, said the feud in Drogheda, Co Louth, should have been a wake-up call to the entire country that gangland violence could spread from cities to towns.
Mr Leahy made his comments as he sought information from the public on the fatal shootings of friends Sean Little and Jordan Davis, both aged 22, within 24 hours. Mr Davis was shot at close range by a man on a bicycle as he pushed his four-month-old boy in a buggy in broad daylight on a laneway adjacent to a national school in Darndale, north Dublin.
That came 17 hours after Mr Little, from nearby Kilmore, was found shot dead near his burning car in a remote part of north Dublin. Both men are suspected of being involved in drug dealing and intimidation and gardaí are investigating if they were shot for owing a drugs debt, but are examining other lines of inquiry.
Mr Leahy said gardaí were not connecting the two murders at this point and said he was confident the investigators would solve the crimes. Last January, another drug-dealing associate of the duo, Zach Parker, aged 23, was shot dead in Swords, north Dublin.
Mr Leahy said: “We are seeing young men — it’s difficult to term them young men at the age of 22 because they are only after coming out of their teenage years and all of a sudden their lives are taken unceremoniously.
“I’m appealing to the young people out there at the moment, not only in Dublin but across the country please, do not get involved at any level with the drugs trade.
“What we are saying to the public and to parents and to young men and women is please, please do not get involved at any level. Low-level dealing now is enough to have your life taken at a young age and we’ve seen it time and time again across the city over the last number of weeks and the last number of years.”
Mr Leahy also moved to reassure communities living under the tyranny of these gangs that gardaí would “stay embedded” in the communities and said that gardaí have had notable successes in recent years in securing convictions against top gang bosses. He said with the conviction of the “top tier” of the Kinahan crime cartel, a vacuum had been left and that younger people were trying to fill it.
However, he said policing on its own would not divert young men away from the lure of gangland — such as “access to money, access to cars, and access to women” — and said a multi-agency response is needed. Responding, Mr D’Arcy said people were “sickened” at how cheap life was.
“I would be calling for a national conversation into young people being pulled into gangs, the growth of drug gangs and the level of violence now going on,” he said. “I thought Drogheda would have been a wake-up call that this could spread to many a town.”
In a show of force, gardaí in Drogheda arrested 18 people and conducted 34 searches as part of a crackdown on criminality. The day of action was conducted under Operation Stratus, which is targeting the two feuding gangs.