One the rise | 

€1m seized by gardaí as Drogheda drugs gang branches out

Murdered gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor

Murdered gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor

Ken Foy

The Drogheda feud gang led by paralysed Owen Maguire is tightening its control of the drugs market in Dundalk and towns in Meath.

The news comes as senior gardaí voiced support for local politicians' calls that money seized from the gangs should be invested in the local community.

"In excess of €1m in cash, which is the subject of criminal investigations, has been seized this year so far in Co Louth," a senior source said.

"There have been 25 significant seizures of cash in the Louth area in 2020 and there is a strong belief among senior gardai and politicians in the locality that this cash should be used for local community projects.

"It would be very useful for local family addiction support networks who are getting barely any funding as well as local sporting organisations and other bodies badly in need of a financial injection.

"The matter has been raised with Justice Minister Helen McEntee, and it would be just great if money that was seized from criminals in Louth was used to help prevent criminality and provide support to victims in the county."

At a joint policing committee meeting last week, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan said "this money would be of enormous benefit" to the local community.

He revealed that 93 people had been arrested for drug dealing in Drogheda in the past year, one of the highest rates in Ireland.


"When we make a big drugs or cash seizure, the network gets spooked and its members move themselves and their drugs out of Drogheda. Towns in Meath seem to be a popular place for them to locate," the senior source said.

The Maguire mob continues to be the main organised crime gang in Drogheda, and its influence in Dundalk is growing.

"They have always had key associates in Dundalk and Ardee, and they have been expanding their turf," the source said.

"This is a gang who were very much on the back foot at the start of the year, but the murder of gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor in Belfast last April was a game changer for them. "With him gone, the Maguire faction have continued to grow. It's a cause of major concern."

The fact that two brothers who led the anti-Maguire faction have fled the country and several members are in jail or facing serious charges has also helped the Maguire gang's recent expansion, sources said.

An Ardee-based gangster in his 30s is one of the main players in the Maguire gang.

He was arrested before being released without charge as part of a money laundering probe linked to the murder of Lawlor, a bitter rival of the Maguire mob.

The Ardee criminal and many of his associates are also key players in the Dundalk crime scene, where the Maguire faction are now considered the second-most powerful gang.

Speaking at the Dundalk Joint Policing Committee last week, Chief Supt Mangan said the possibility of an overspill of the Drogheda feud was something they were watching.

"We keep a close eye on it. We don't want to end up with the proverbial war that we've had in Drogheda for two years,' he said.

"We will do our best to ensure it doesn't spill over to Dundalk."

Chief Supt Mangan said there were 72 arrests for drug dealing in Dundalk in the first 10 months of the year.

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