The head of the Limerick divisional drugs squad said yesterday that the jailing of the Collopy brothers, Kieran and Brian, resulted from a clinically organised strike against the gang’s leadership after a year-long multi-agency Garda operation.
Detective Inspector Eamon O’Neill said: “For years we have been successful in getting their lieutenants. But these two, the top leadership in the Collopy gang, believed they were untouchable. Now they have received very significant sentences which we welcome.
“Today is one of the most significant in the fight against organised criminal gangs in Limerick. Since the feud exploded with the murder of Eddie Ryan in the Moose Bar in November 2000, a lot of people have died and many others have been jailed. The gardaí in Limerick never lost sight of the main drivers of the feud. These were the gang leaders running multimillion-euro drugs operations. Today two of the highest ranking members of the Collopy gang have followed the leaders of the other main Limerick gang, the McCarthy Dundons into jail for long sentences.”
He said it was also significant the Collopy brothers entered early guilty pleas.
“Normally the people at this level in the gangs try to exploit the legal system and a case might not come to court for three or four years. Their early admissions were an acknowledgement of how professional the Garda operation was. Two top figures in the Limerick gang scene have been taken off the streets for a long time.
“This is a massive blow to the Collopy outfit and a victory for law and order here.”
While the Collopys’ main trade was in heroin, they also had other lucrative earners. These included the sale of Christmas trees, a fleet of ice cream and chip vans, and the sale of illegally imported cigarettes.
Brian Collopy’s son Kenneth, 25, is serving a life sentence for the 2009 murder of Daniel Fitzgerald. During that murder probe, when gardaí searched the family home and surrounding area at Ballysimon, they found drugs worth €250,000 in an outhouse, and almost €20,000 in cash concealed in underwear in a drawer.
The gunmen involved in the Moose Bar murder of Eddie Ryan were Kieran Keane and another one of the Collopy brothers, Philip.
Kieran Keane was abducted and murdered in 2003, and Philip Collopy accidentally shot himself dead in March 2009 when aged 29.
That shooting happened when he removed the magazine from a Glock pistol when showing off the gun to friends at his home in St Mary’s Park.
Not realising there was still one bullet in the breech, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
An inquest was told that parts of his brain were found in the roof rafters of the house.
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