Gardai And CAB To Target Network Of Drug ‘Lieutenants’

Gardai are to deploy extra resources throughout the country to help the Criminal Assets Bureau crack down on the nationwide network of major drug gang “lieutenants”.

This emerged last night as detectives hunted the gunman responsible for the murder of a car dealer responsible for laundering drug money. One of his legitimate customers was also killed in the barrage of shots.

Senior garda officers confirmed last night that car dealer Brian Downes had links to several drug gangs and as well as laundering their money through his business also supplied them with cars fitted with false plates.

Mr Downes (40) was shot dead in his garage at the rear of his mother’s home at Greenhills Road in Walkinstown in south Dublin on Friday night.

Customer Eddie Ward, of Clondalkin, was also a victim as the lone gunman fired 10 shots from a handgun before making his escape on a high powered motorcycle.

It was revealed yesterday that Ward had intended to move to a new home in county Galway before the end of the month.

Senior Garda officers told the Irish Independent that additional staff were being trained to act as asset profilers to help the CAB identify how and where suspected drug dealers were hiding their cash.

Since early last year asset profilers have been deployed in each garda division throughout the country.

These are seconded to the CAB for training and then operate locally in their own divisions, target suspects and then file reports to the CAB for further investigation.

The local profiles have been particularly useful in areas such as west and north Dublin and Limerick where drug gangs are responsible for a series of murders.

Subsequent investigations have yielded vital information on the assets being built up by the local crime bosses.

The decision to train additional asset profilers will mean the CAB will be able to concentrate more on the gangs’ lieutenants.

This represents the network of mid ranking traffickers who supply the street dealers and act as a link between the dealers and the drug lords.

Justice Minister Brian Lenihan, who was briefed last month by senior members of the CAB, said last night: “The CAB has been a huge success but it has tended to target the high level people, the big amounts of money and that’s what you would expect.

“But it is very important that the CAB get to tackle people at the lower end because they provide the visible local example of how crime pays,” he told RTE’s ‘The Week in Politics’ programme.

Friday night’s double murder will be at the top of the agenda when the minister meets Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy and his security supremo, Deputy Commissioner Fachtna Murphy for routine discussions today in his Department.

Investigators said Mr Downes had wide ranging links in the drugs underworld because of his ability as a “facilitator” and was known to provide logistic support to rival gangs involved in feuding.

“He was regarded by the gang leaders as a key back-up player.

“But it was inevitable because he was so involved in handling money for so many groups that he would eventually run foul of one of them”, one senior officer said.

Some of his children were in their granny’s house when the gunman opened fire and one of them ran out into the yard to find him dying on the ground.

Mr Ward’s wife, Jodie was sitting outside in the family car at the time.

Minutes earlier she had been joking with the two men.