When Ms Collins, a community worker in Crumlin, south Dublin, looked out, she could see Raleigh Square, Windmill Rd, and Kildare Rd were being cordoned off by gardaí.
Over the following hours, at least six homes on those roads — five of them owned by one family — were searched.
Ms Collins knew what was going down. She was a neighbour of crime boss David Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel on February 4.
Byrne was also associated with the powerful Kinahan crime cartel, based in Spain, which was feuding with the Hutch network in Dublin’s north inner city.
The Kinahans avenged Byrne’s murder by killing Edward Hutch — brother of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch — on February 8.
Yesterday’s operation was not about arresting gang members for the murder. It was about the wealth. It was led by the Criminal Assets Bureau, assisted by local gardaí, with the support of elite armed crime units.
Three weeks ago, at the launch of a report on gang intimidation, and on the back of the Byrne and Hutch murders, Ms Collins called for a concerted Garda response.
She wanted mini-CABs in areas like Crumlin and Drimnagh and a big investment in community policing.
Her calls came as outrage grew at the display of wealth at the funeral of David Byrne — replete with 10 stretch limos and a platinum casket.
“I think the searches are great. It’s the first positive thing in a long time, but they are ten years overdue,” Ms Collins told the
As the head of Addiction Response Crumlin for the past 20 years, Ms Collins said she and others have seen members of a particular family, and their close associates, accumulate wealth and display it openly for locals to see.
“If a young person with no prospect of employment sees people driving around in BMWs and not working, they are more than likely going to get roped into the glamour of gangs as the only way of making money,” she said.
Yesterday’s haul bears testament to that wealth. In total, gardaí seized 29 vehicles and six motorbikes.
Ten of the cars were taken from various homes, mainly in Crumlin and Drimnagh, including a number of 5 Series BMWs, four Golf GTDs, a new Mercedes, and a new Audi. The Mercedes CLA is valued at around €32,000.
A separate search of a car business in Bluebell — owned by gang members — resulted in the seizure of 19 cars, a quad bike, and six bikes. They included a Kawasaki motorbike valued at €38,000.
CAB seized nine Rolex and other luxury watches from the homes, worth an estimated €40,000. Various sums of euro and sterling cash, amounting to €30,000, were also confiscated.
While the CAB valuation process is under way, sources estimate the total value of cars, jewellery, and cash could be around €1m.
Some of the homes were protected by sophisticated security systems and one door had 15 locks; gardaí had to use a hydraulic system to break through.
Of the 18 searches, 11 were of homes and the rest were businesses, including accountancy and solicitors firms.
CAB officers took away computers, laptops, and a large amount of documentation — from bank and financial statements to expenditure receipts — for analysis.
Ms Collins is clear that the operation should just be the start.
“It has to be followed up. There is no point doing it once and forgetting. We need to target intimidation in communities, drugs, and gangs. We don’t have enough gardaí on the street and we need community gardaí talking to young people and build up respect on both sides.”