Sources said Jason Molyneaux, a senior associate of the Hutch grouping, was a “top target” of the cartel.
Gardaí said it is also possible that the criminal was gunned down on the orders of a crime boss exacting revenge for a double murder in Ballymun, north Dublin, last August.
Molyneaux was a close friend of Derek Coakley Hutch, murdered on Saturday, January 20, at the suspected hands of the Kinahan cartel.
Molyneaux had attended Hutch’s wake at the family home on Buckingham St, in Dublin’s north inner city just hours before he was shot dead on Tuesday night.
The father of one, from nearby North William St, was seen at the house with Alan Hutch, brother of Ross, both sons of Eddie Hutch Sr, who was shot dead by the cartel in February 2016.
Molyneaux, who had more than 100 convictions, was due to attend yesterday morning’s funeral of his friend.
Molyneaux, aged 27, was shot six times in the chest and stomach, at James Larkin House flats complex, just a couple minutes’ walk from Buckingham St, at around 9.45pm on Tuesday.
Gardaí believe he may have been lured to the small complex and that he met someone travelling in a white van.
“This is a callous murder,” said Supt Gerry Murphy of Store St Garda Station.
“This is a murder that has occurred in an area that has been subject of a number of murders in the past.”
He appealed to local people or anyone passing the flats, located on the busy North Strand, to come forward.
“We need the help of the community to assist us,” said Supt Murphy.
“We are out there on an ongoing basis but we need the help of the community.”
He said on this occasion a Garda patrol car was nearby and came on the incident very quickly. He said they also have the Armed Support Unit and an active community policing unit, whose members can talk to people in confidence.
He asked for sightings of a white Renault Kangoo van, reg 10 D 126064, in the last few days or in particular any sightings of this van between 9.45pm on Tuesday and 12.15am.
He said the van was located by gardaí on the road leading to the East Link Toll Booth at approximately 12.15am.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room at Store St on 01 6668000, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111, or any Garda station.
As well as investigating possible links to the Kinahan cartel, detectives are also probing if it was a revenge attack for the murders of Antoinette Devoy and Clinton Shannon in Ballymun last August.
The innocent duo were shot dead instead of the assassin’s intended target, a local crime boss. Molyneaux, also known as ‘Buda’, was suspected by the criminal of being involved.
An associate of Molyneaux, also linked with the Hutch grouping, was shot and injured in a reckless gun attack last Friday night on the South Circular Rd. An innocent British student passing by was also injured.
Similar to Molyneaux’s murder, gardaí are investigating if it was a Kinahan attack or one linked with the Ballymun feud.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemned the attack.
“The gardaí, as you know, are following a line of inquiry and a huge amount of resource has been put into policing in that area and that will continue,” he said.
“We do receive European support already through Europol and also through Interpol. And some of these gangs act on a transnational basis.”
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “There is no place for such activity in a civilised country.
“The gardaí have faced down such criminal threats in the past and will do so now and well into the future.”
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said 15 gangland killings in 27 months showed the Government was losing the fight against gun crime.