violent mob | 

Anti-Maguire faction in disarray three years on from start of deadly feud

Little remains of the mob in the town following a series of murders, successful Garda operations and personal tragedies.
Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

Robin Schiller

A violent feud that raged in the Co Louth town of Drogheda resulted in four murders as well as dozens of gun attacks and petrol bombings.

The split of a violent drugs gang into two factions led to an unprecedented level of violence and a major policing plan to target the mobs.

However, three years on and more than a year after orchestrating the murder of a teenager, the so-called ‘anti-Maguire’ faction has been left depleted and nearly dismantled.

Little remains of the mob in the town following a series of murders, successful Garda operations and personal tragedies.

In a short period of time the main players have either ended up dead, in prison, fled abroad or, in some cases, homeless.

The murder of a teenager in the town last year – which cannot be detailed for legal reasons – led to increased pressure on the gang.

The perceived mob leaders, two brothers aged in their early 20s, fled the country within weeks of the killing.

They are currently wanted in relation to a serious feud crime and will be arrested if they set foot in Ireland.

The mobsters had travelled to Spain before moving on to Mexico, where they are currently living with their partners.

Gardaí believe the gang’s influence was seriously diminished with the fleeing of the brothers, and has had knock-on effects.

Others who weren’t as fortunate to have the resources to immediately flee abroad have been locked up.

Paul Crosby (25), a central figure in the feud, is currently serving a four-and-a-half year jail term over an arson incident in the town.

He was arrested while being kept under surveillance by members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and caught burning out a stolen car.

He has since appealed that sentence and in February was arrested in relation to the murder of the teenage boy in January 2020.

At the height of the feud he had been behind a phone call to rival mob boss Owen Maguire, who was left wheelchair-bound following a feud shooting in July 2018.

The phone call was to abuse the rival boss and at one stage Crosby goaded Maguire by asking: “Do you want to go for a walk and sort this out.”

Another associate of the gang, Dean Thornton (23), was last month given three years’ jail for assault in relation to the abduction of man in 2018.

Dean Thornton

Dean Thornton

The victim had been taken to a house in the Moneymore estate before being beaten and stripped in the bathtub of the house.

He was rescued only when armed gardaí burst into the property and made a number of arrests.

Lengthy prison sentences and fleeing abroad from the pressures of the Garda crackdown weren’t the only afflictions suffered by the criminal gang.

A close associate of Thornton, aged in his mid 40s, is currently having to use homeless services in the town.

Another 21-year-old criminal, centrally involved in the crime network, has also been left homeless after falling out with his family.

One source told the Sunday World : “He fell out with his father, and basically hasn’t got any pals left to turn to unless he goes to Mexico.

“The older associate is also in homeless aid.

“It’s a complete fall from grace for a gang who thought of themselves as the top dogs in town.

“Their network has been fairly well disrupted by gardaí and their own downfalls.

“The main players are all but gone from the picture for the time being.”

In March another associate took his own life, with his death being publicly mocked online by the Maguire faction.

The man, aged in his mid-30s, was suspected of being a driver for the ‘anti-Maguire’ gang and previously suffered horrific head injuries during a knife attack.

One social media post showed pictures of the deceased man, saying it was “some crew” they had left and that it was “definitely not the Maguires running”.

Fatal gun attacks also featured in the dispute between the Drogheda gangs.

In April of last year, crazed hitman Robbie Lawlor (36) was shot dead while on a suspected debt collection run in Belfast.

Robbie Lawlor

Robbie Lawlor

He was a chief suspect for several gun attacks and murders, which included playing a central involvement in the teenage boy’s killing last year.

Garda intelligence described him as a gun-for-hire who carried out shootings for the ‘anti-’Maguire’ mob in return for cash payment.

He had built up more than 100 convictions by the time he was murdered, and he was the suspected trigger-man in the shooting of Owen Maguire, which sparked the feud.

Long before this murder, other fatalities had stemmed the influence of the gang.

Richie Carberry, suspected of being one of two senior criminals “directing” the young Drogheda mob, was shot dead outside his Co Meath home on November 4, 2019.

Richie Carberry

Richie Carberry

The 39-year-old was seen as the Dublin link to the anti-Maguire faction and considered the “number two” in a hierarchy of criminals directing the gang.

Three months earlier the feud had claimed its first life.

On August 27, Keith Branagan (29), who was friendly with the anti-Maguire gang, was shot dead outside a caravan park in Clogherhead.

He was not suspected of being centrally involved in the feud and his killing may have been opportunistic after he was spotted carrying out work on the holiday home, leaving him exposed and vulnerable.

It showed the ruthlessness of both gangs.

Other associates of the gang are currently facing serious charges before the courts, which cannot be detailed for legal reasons.

While low-level drug dealers loyal to the anti-Maguire mob remain operational in the town, the influence they once had has severely diminished.

However, while one gang’s powerbase has declined, gardaí are battling the expansion of the Maguire gang who are looking to exploit their rivals’ downfall.

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