James Gately narrowly escaped with his life, thanks to a bulletproof vest, after being shot at five times as he sat in his parked car at a busy service station in north Dublin.
The drive-by shooting took place in the early afternoon at a Topaz garage in Clonshaugh with gardaí saying that innocent people could easily have been injured.
Gately received a gunshot wound to his neck and jaw, while three bullets hit his vest and a fifth went through his car and struck a sign on the far side of the road.
The 30-year-old is associated with the Hutch crime grouping and was a close friend of Gary Hutch, murdered by the cartel in Spain in September 2015.
His death was the first casualty of the feud, which has claimed up to 11 lives — all but one at the hands of the cartel.
The cartel launched a killing spree after the Hutch grouping sought revenge for Gary’s murder and carried out a military-style assault on the Regency Hotel in February 2016.
That attack, involving gunmen dressed as elite gardaí armed with AK47s, led to the death of senior Kinahan figure, David Byrne, but missed its main target, Daniel Kinahan, the elder son of cartel boss Christy Kinahan.
Garda sources said they have “saved” Gately a number of times from being shot. “We have sat down with him and said ‘stay out of town’,” said one source.
Gately, from Dublin’s north inner city, has been in the North, but is understood to have visited Dublin more than once to visit family.
“If he listened to us, he wouldn’t have been shot,” said a Garda source.
“How many times have they tried to shoot him? But what does he do? He drives around Dublin. Everyone knows him. He cannot just wander around town, he would be spotted. The Kinahans were proactively seeking him and others.”
Despite reports that the cartel was reeling, he said: “A bit like the Provos, they haven’t gone away.”
He said the cartel leadership is “throwing money” at gunmen, or those with access to a gun, to shoot Hutch associates. And he said the cartel is under mounting pressure because of Garda successes.
“The Kinahans have lost people, guns and drugs. They are finding it extremely difficult to trade,” said the source. He said that 25 attempted murders have been prevented by gardaí tackling the feud.