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Zambra and Callaghan sentence a "significant dent" in gangland crime says top cop

Tony Howard
Tony Howard

Superintendent Tony Howard has today described the conviction of Paul Zambra and Anthony Callaghan as“one of the most significant convictions in quite some time."

Zambra (39) and Callaghan (45) were caught, following a three-day surveillance operation by specialist gardai, "red handed" with loaded guns and a can of petrol with "an intent to endanger life" and have been jailed for 10 and 12 years, read the full story here.

Paul Zambra

"These are two very dangerous criminals who have been removed from society for a number of years and we would believe yes it was one of the most significant operations.

"You only have to think back a number of weeks ago when we had a serious incident in the north side of the city so we would see any operation that takes firearms off the streets and takes criminals of the calibre of the people we have convicted today, that's a significant day.

"This was a major operation which was planned. It was conducted by a number of specialised units but primarily by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.  It took place over three days.

"There was a huge amount of assets and resources deployed... in terms of the evidence we had....there was two loaded firearms one of which had a silencer, there was petrol also recovered in the car, the car had false plates.

"This was a professional operation and there is no doubt that somebody’s life was in imminent danger.

"The safety catches had been removed off the firearms, they were in readiness for a major incident and a tactical decision was made. Preservation of life is more important than anything else in any of these operation and thankfully no garda was injured or no member of the public was injured.

"I think the public need to know that this type of operation is on-going almost every day but the public aren’t aware of what we do.

"The public should be satisfied and happy that they have an organisation that have both the capacity and capability to tackle organised crime and I know I have been quoted before as saying no criminal should think that they are untouchable.”

When asked by reporters what he thought of the sentence handed down Superintendent Howard replied:

“Well obviously a decision has been made by a senior member of the judiciary. We will be talking among ourselves but a significant sentence has been handed down by the courts based on the facts and the evidence that has been presented.”

When asked if the two men had been known to the gardaí for a number of years, he replied:

“These two individuals have been arrested on a number occasion for firearms, drugs and serious assault type offences. These two individuals are what I would deem to be career criminals.”

When asked if they are connected to gangland and organised crime he said:

“Certainly these two individuals would be involved in organised crime. The operation itself, the planning, the methodology, the guns, the petrol….these people were well versed in how to carry out a criminal attack.”

When asked how big a dent it is in their operation the superintendent replied:

“There is no doubt that this is a significant dent in any operation. We have taken guns and we have taken the individuals out of the equation and the community will be a lot safer with these two gentlemen locked up in prison for a number of years.”