The impact of the new anti-gangland task force will be “dictated” by the resources made available to it, one of its leaders said yesterday.
The Special Crime Task Force was announced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on Tuesday with the purpose of focusing “relentlessly” on gangland activities.
The task force will come under the remit of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, assisted by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
It is aimed at middle- and lower-ranking gang members, including those involved in the logistics of operations, including drug distribution and shootings.
“The overall aim of the task force is to support existing structures,” said assistant commissioner Eugene Corcoran, the head of CAB.
“It would be driven from the centre, controlled by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and will have a focus on the divisions.”
The gardaí have been criticised by community drug organisations for their perceived failure to target local drug gangs and the visible wealth of dealers.
Groups maintained the open display of wealth pulled vulnerable young people into the trade, drawn by the money and status.
For more than a decade, they have called for “mini” CABs to be set up.
This includes groups in Dublin’s north inner city, which has seen four murders of locals by Kinahan cartel associates since February.
“The aim is to ensure there is a coordinated approach across divisions,” said Mr Corcoran.
Speaking at a Garda briefing yesterday, the CAB chief said the idea was that the task force “would be able to act quickly” and support local divisions.
“It’s quite clear we know who the gang members are,” he said. “Investigations [into the murders] to date have provided some very positive results and we intend to build on that”.
Asked how many gang members the task force will target, he said: “That will very much be dictated by the consideration of resources available.”
A number of Garda sources said the “proof of the pudding” will be the level of resources and staffing available to the task force.
As it stands the task force will not be taking detectives out of local units, but co-ordinating their work, particularly across divisions.
It will also liaise with the CAB-trained asset profilers in each district, and officers from social welfare and customs. It is also expected to consult local community groups.
But high-ranking sources said resources will be key, and that if such a task force is being set up, it will need to be thought through and resourced sufficiently.
It is expected to be up and running by the end of the month. But sources said its work will be based on intelligence and a long-term plan.
One source said that local district detective units, particularly in Dublin, are understaffed and already buckling under workloads.
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