‘Unprecedented’ number up for murder conspiracies

There is an “unprecedented” number of people before the courts or in custody on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, Garda bosses investigating the Kinahan crime cartel have said.

Officers said they were working on files for the Director of Public Prosecutions to try to bring charges — including conspiracy to murder — against the senior leadership of the cartel, including those based elsewhere in Europe and in the Middle East.

Speaking at a briefing in relation to the interception last Saturday of a suspected hit-team linked to the Kinahan cartel, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said the capture of people redhanded with firearms, on their way to kill someone, had the “greatest impact” on an organised crime group.

Flanked by the heads of various Garda specialist units and by a deputy director of the British National Crime Agency, Mr O’Driscoll said they had intervened in almost 50 situations where hitmen were on their way to assassinate a particular target.

He appealed to people, including addicts who owe the cartels money, not to engage in activities for them, such as spotting and reporting the movements of members of the Hutch grouping.

Four people — including an ex-British soldier, an INLA man, and two Finglas brothers — remain in custody after they were arrested with four firearms in relation to the attempted assassination of a senior figure in the Hutch family.

That raid was the result of an operation involving the National Surveillance Unit, the Security and Intelligence Section and the ongoing work of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

The weapons included two submachine guns, one revolver, two semi-automatic pistols and a quantity of ammunition. A total of nine searches were conducted.

Mr O’Driscoll, who heads Special Crime Operations, said seven people were before the courts on charges of conspiracy to murder, separate to Saturday’s arrests.

He said this number was “unprecedented” and was “hugely significant”, and that there were a growing number of cases of people being arrested in possession of firearms where gardaí believe a “death was imminent” if they had not intervened.

He said the seizure of firearms on their own only had a certain impact on gangs, but the capture of people in possession of firearms with the intention of using them had the “greatest impact”, as there was “only so many people willing to murder and be a member of a hit team”.

He said gardaí were working with international law enforcement, such as the NCA in Britain, and similar agencies in Holland and Spain and beyond, in terms of snaring cartel leadership.

Mr O’Driscoll said they were working on plans, with foreign agencies, in which they were “targeting people at the highest level”.

He said this could be in relation to directing criminal activities in Ireland from abroad or for conspiracy to murder.

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