Garda bosses say the “unprecedented” number of gangland convictions in the courts in the last fortnight highlights the “unrelenting” approach of State agencies to tackling organised crime.
Assistant commissioner, Special Crime Operations, John O’Driscoll, said a total of nine people, all linked to the Kinahan crime cartel, have received significant sentences since July 15.
This includes six people sentenced yesterday, including five members of two separate ‘hit teams’ working for the cartel, and a sixth member sentenced for a large heroin haul.
Mr O’Driscoll said that since the Regency Hotel assault in February 2016, the State was presented with a serious scenario and there was a suggestion An Garda Síochána was not prepared.
He said that “coming out of a recession, there was probably some truth to that”.
Since then, various Garda units have adopted a “consistent and unrelenting approach” by gathering intelligence and targeting particular gangs, he said.
The assistant commissioner was speaking at a press conference, flanked by Chief Superintendent Angela Willis, Detective Superintendent Seamus Boland, and Detective Inspectors Dave Gallagher and DI Noel Browne, all of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Clavin, head of the Criminal Assets Bureau, also attended.
Mr O’Driscoll said the successes in the courts reflected 2009 anti-gangland legislation, subject to yearly renewal by the Oireachtas, which refers certain offences to the non-jury Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise.
He said since the establishment of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in March 2015, the bureau has seized drugs with an estimated street value of €158m, cash worth €10m. It also seized 101 firearms, including assault rifles, and 3,300 rounds of ammunition.
Mr O’Driscoll said this included the Kinahan cartel gun “warehouse” in Greenogue in January 2017, in which 15 firearms were seized. In total, 651 arrests have been made.
Det Supt Boland said the unit also carried out 64 ‘threat to life’ operations, where the bureau intervened to prevent gangland assassinations of rivals.
Referring to the Kinahan crime cartel, Mr O’Driscoll said the Garda’s ultimate aim is to dismantle the organisation — as it is with all such groupings, he added, adding it was their target for all gangs.
“Clearly, some have engaged in criminal activity to a more significant extent that others, particularly those with an international dimension, and the more of those that are convicted the more likely we are to achieve that,” he said.
He welcomed comments from Mr Justice Tony Hunt at the Special Criminal Court regarding the professionalism and conduct of Garda units and the personal risk members took in intercepting the hit teams.
He pointed out that, overall, there had been a 25% reduction in murders up to June this year, compared to the same period last year.