Gardaí are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident but believe the suspects were planning a serious crime before they were arrested.
One source told the Sunday World: “This was a situation where three known criminals with gloves and their faces covered were in a stolen car with an imitation firearm.
“There is no doubt they had a crime planned and gardaí did well to bring this to a safe conclusion while making three arrests.”
All three men aged in their 30s are known to gardaí and one of them has previously served a lengthy jail sentence over a botched gun murder.
Him and his associate in custody are also currently on bail for a high-profile incident while the third man is a criminal from the Finglas area.
At around 9.40pm last night gardaí were on patrol on Davitt Road, Drimnagh, when they came across a stolen silver Mini Cooper.
Gardaí attempted to stop the car but it sped off over Herberton Bridge and into Rialto before being abandoned at Longs Place in the south-inner city.
The three suspects fled the scene and one of the men was seen discarding a plastic bag.
Following a search the bag was recovered and a suspected firearm was found inside which has been sent to the ballistics unit for analysis.
The three men were arrested and are currently being questioned under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act at Crumlin and Kevin Street garda stations.
One of the men, aged in his mid-30s originally from the Dublin 12 area, was only released from prison on bail in recent days.
The man is considered a high-profile criminal who has served a lengthy jail term for a botched shooting more than a decade ago.
His close associate, from the south-inner city, was also only released on bail in recent days.
They can all be held for a period of up to three days before they must either be charged or released pending a file to the DPP.
A garda spokesman said that investigations are ongoing.
“During the course of this managed containment operation, the offending vehicle (a silver Mini Cooper) was observed driving at speed through traffic in the Davitt Road, Herberton Bridge and Rialto areas causing a number of vehicles to take action to avoid a potential collision.
“Gardaí are appealing to any road users travelling in these areas at this time to make contact with Gardaí, particularly any road users who may have camera footage (including dash-cam).
“Anyone with information is asked to contact Sundrive Road Garda Station on 01 6666600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station,” the spokesman added.