In an operation described as a major success for gardaí, officers from the specialist organised crime unit recovered two AK47 assault rifles, two handguns along with silencers, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Officers said three men arrested with the guns “definitely have connections” with the Hutch crime gang which is involved in a spiralling feud with the Kinahan cartel.
Detectives said that while they had no information that the weapons were going to be used by the Hutch outfit to carry out revenge attacks on the Kinahan cartel, they did say they were “only a step away from falling into use in the feud”. The murder of Noel Duggan in Ratoath, Co Meath, on Wednesday night brought to three, the number of people very close to Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch killed by the Kinahan cartel.
Last September, his nephew Gary Hutch, a former senior associate within the Kinahan syndicate, was gunned down in Spain by cartel members.
After the Hutch gang murdered Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne at the infamous Regency Hotel military-style assault on February 4, the Kinahans shot dead The Monk’s brother, Edward Hutch, a taxi driver.
Gardaí are putting out more patrols and checkpoints to try and prevent further violence. While observers might expect the Hutch gang to retaliate first for the two revenge killings for Byrne’s murder, experienced detectives said it was almost as likely the Kinahan cartel will strike again.
The seizure of weapons and ammunition on Thursday night was part of a continuing operation by the Drug and Organised Crime Bureau into a gang involved in the “provision and distribution of firearms”.
In the operation, supported by the heavily-armed Emergency Response Unit, two assault rifles and more than 200 rounds of ammunition were seized, and three men arrested when gardaí stopped two vehicles in the Ratoath area.
Gardaí are not drawing a link to the Duggan murder because of the location, with sources saying members of the firearms gang also live in the area. In a follow-up search, two semi-automatic pistols, silencers and further quantities of ammunition were found near Ashbourne.
“This is an extremely significant seizure and also significant to get prisoners,” said a garda source.
“This has saved lives, no doubt. These guns have been taken out of the hands of criminals and prevented people being shot down the road, whether in the days, weeks or months to come.
“These weapons would not just be used in one shooting and thrown away, they are too valuable. They would have been used and used and used. They could have been rented out.”
Two of the three arrested are linked to the Hutch gang.
“There are definite connections with a crime group from the north inner city that are involved in the feud,” said the garda source.