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gang reeling Gangster Paul Rice calls in all debts after massive drugs seizure leaves him 'short of cash'

A gang under the direction of hardman Paul Rice (51) has been increasing its sinister presence in Dublin's drugs-trafficking scene since the pandemic began last year, senior sources have revealed

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Hardman Paul Rice.

Hardman Paul Rice.

Hardman Paul Rice.

A veteran Kinahan cartel gangster and a very close younger associate are now turning the heat on other criminals.

The pair are under increasing pressure after a massive multi-million euro cannabis and cash seizure that ­damaged the mob.

A gang under the direction of gangland hardman Paul Rice (51) has been increasing its sinister presence in Dublin's drugs-trafficking scene since the pandemic began last year, senior sources have revealed.

But they have been left reeling after the seizure, details of which cannot be outlined here for legal reasons.

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Hardman Paul Rice with Gerard Kavanagh

Hardman Paul Rice with Gerard Kavanagh

Hardman Paul Rice with Gerard Kavanagh

The mob is now one of the main targets of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), under the command of Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll.

"This crew has been expanding its operations in recent months, but that seizure is ­going to have them under serious pressure, there is no doubt about that," a senior source said.

While Rice has been spending his time between his home in Tallaght and a property in Co ­Wexford, a very close ­associate of his is suspected of running the drug-dealing ­operation from his base in the west Dublin suburb.

"This is an individual who ­people are very afraid of - he can often be seen travelling around in a convoy of cars and he has been flexing his ­muscles," a source explained.

The criminal who is aged in his early 30s has previously served a prison sentence for a violent incident.

"He has been calling in debts by making threatening phone calls and landing at people's doors - the situation seems to have gotten worse since the gardaí had that big success against them, so they must be short of cash," the source added.

Apart from Rice and his younger ­associate, the organised crime gang consists of two notorious Tallaght criminal brothers and "at least 20 foot-soldiers that range in age from their late teens to their early 30s", according to the source.

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"This crew is in control in the ­Tallaght area but is also operating in other areas of the city, particularly in the Dún Laoghaire area," the source added.

It can also be revealed that the gang is "putting severe ­pressure" on a family-based organised-crime gang that is being run from that part of the city - and gardaí are closely monitoring the situation.

"Paul Rice himself has been actively involved in the row in Dún Laoghaire," the well-informed source said.

The gang is also suspected of sourcing the drugs it sells in the capital from Kinahan cartel ­operators in Spain.

And the Sunday World can ­reveal they have been ­using some ­seemingly legitimate ­businesses in the Tallaght area to conduct their soul-destroying drug dealing.

Rice is one of the capital's most notorious criminals.

However, until recent months, the gangland intimidator had been keeping his head down and was content for his younger associate to "take care of business", according to the source.

For years, he has acted as an enforcer and debt collector for the notorious Kinahan cartel.

He also has links to a number of dangerous Dublin-based ­dissident republicans.

He was a long-time ­associate of Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh (44), who was shot dead in an Irish bar in Elviria, Spain, in September, 2014, on the orders of his own gang.

Rice himself is no stranger to violence and he was jailed for 10 years in July 1995 after ­pleading guilty to the robbery of a bank in which gunshots were fired.

Back in the summer of 2016, when the vicious bloody Hutch/Kinahan feud - which has claimed as many as 18 lives - was raging out of control in the ­capital, Rice installed new ­cameras and a state-of-the-art CCTV security system in his Dublin home. In March of that year, he had been officially warned by gardaí about an active threat against his life.

It turned out that officers had received information that the Hutch mob were planning to whack him.

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The murder of Ger ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh in Spain caught on camera.

The murder of Ger ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh in Spain caught on camera.

The murder of Ger ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh in Spain caught on camera.

It was not the first Garda ­Information Message to be ­issued to the gangland hardman, and his home had been shot up in 2013 when it was attacked by rival thugs.

Rice was arrested by gardaí investigating a kidnap and ­torture at a house in Lucan in October 2010, in which a man was beaten and scalded with boiling water.

He was also questioned by gardaí about a botched hit on car dealer Michael Frazer at the car park of a pub in Firhouse, south Dublin, in August, 2014. Rice and his crew had previously told the now slain Real IRA gang boss Alan Ryan to "f *** off", when the RIRA came looking for protection money in 2011, just months before Ryan was murdered by a different gang.

In October 2014, Rice's home was raided as part of a major investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

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