Police expect arrests to be made overseas as part of probe into an international crime cartel behind a murderous feud that has spilled onto the streets of Dublin.
In its latest security briefing, the Garda said an unprecedented spate of underworld-ordered murders in Dublin was being directed from Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.
The tentacles of the criminal “conglomerate” involved also reach into Russia and the so-called Marseille Mafia, assistant commissioner John O’Mahony said.
“There is no doubt about what’s happening in this country and impacting on these communities – particularly in the inner city communities of Dublin – is being orchestrated from the south of Spain and from Holland and indeed from the UK,” he told the briefing.
Asked if he expected imminent arrests overseas, the Garda chief said: “Of course I do anticipate [arrests], I hope.”
A special crime task force has been set up as the blood-letting between the Kinahan and Hutch families spirals out of control.
Last week, Gareth Hutch, who was in his 30s and the father of a young son, became the latest victim when he was shot dead in broad daylight outside his flat a few hundred yards from the city’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street.
A nephew of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, he is believed to be the seventh person shot dead in the brutally violent dispute.
Mr O’Mahony said the international dimension is a challenge for the investigations.
The establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996 to strip crime lords of their wealth has probably driven gangsters overseas and out of its reach, he added.
Nonetheless, the senior police officer pointed to past arrests of notorious figures John Gilligan and Brian Meehan, who were brought back to Ireland to face court over Guerin’s killing.
“That is something we will do again,” he said.
“We will follow those people who are guilty of these crimes or indeed guilty of organised crime activity in this country to wherever it takes us and bring them back to justice here.”
Gilligan was acquitted of Guerin’s murder but convicted of multimillion cannabis smuggling.
Garda chiefs are considering basing some officers overseas to assist other national forces as part of the crackdown.
“We are dealing with a huge crime conglomerate; we are not just dealing with Ireland,” said Mr O’Mahony.
“It reaches out into Russia, into the Marseille Mafia, all based in Spain.”
As well as targeting crime bosses, the newly-established Garda special task force is going after low-level associates in Dublin.
Garda deputy commissioner John Twomey warned that even those who go out to buy a mobile phone for a killer are equally responsible.
“Those people who are involved in the fringes of these crimes, those that are involved in any of the logistics, the purchasing of the phones or purchasing of cars are equally as culpable as those who pull the trigger,” he said.
“They figure centrally in our investigations.”
Last week, premier Enda Kenny demanded an international response to the spate of cold-blooded murders in Dublin.
The Taoiseach suggested the security response was being hampered because offshore crime bosses were behind the hits.
Listing off a macabre roll call of some of the country’s most murderous crime gangs in the past, he said they were all based within Ireland and could be targeted at a national level.