Cocaine Gang Wars Behind Dublin Murder Wave

It started when gunmen disguised as a police SWAT team opened fire with assault rifles on boxing fans gathered for weigh-in ceremonies at Dublin's Regency Hotel last Friday killing one man and wounding two others. The fatality was a young man named David Byrne. Escaping injury was the star of the show, Jamie Kavanagh, who was scheduled to contest the WBO European lightweight title the following night.

The Continuity IRA (CIRA) claimed responsibility for the hit, saying it planned to carry out further attacks "on drug dealers and criminals." The statement blamed Byrne for the assassination of a Real IRA militant in 2012.

But days later, CIRA released a new statement, denying involvement.

The confusion could be due to factionalism in the Irish Republican movement. Or did gang hitmen issue the first statement, hoping to scapegoat CIRA for the hit?

In any case, the Saturday night fight would have been Kavanagh's first in Dublin since the gangland killings of his father, Gerard, and his uncle Paul—both convicted as drug traffickers and lieutenants of Ireland's reigning cocaine kingpin, Christy Kinahan. Gerard was gunned down in an Irish bar in Spain's Costa del Sol in September 2014. Paul was shot to death in his parked car in Dublin in March 2015.

The plot thickened on Monday when a second man was gunned down by a kill squad, this time at a private home in Dublin. The victim, middle-aged taxi driver Eddie Hutch Sr., was the brother of supposedly "reformed" crime boss Gerry "The Monk" Hutch. Ireland's police force, the Garda Síochána, called it suspected retaliation for the Regency hit. 

The Hutch gang was supposedly broken up in Operation Alpha, the first major investigation launched by the Gardaí's Criminal Assets Bureau after it was established in 1996. Eddie Hutch's bank account was seized as part of that operation.

The Gardaí now say Byrne also had his own links to the Kinahan machine. Kinahan is said to control cocaine and cannabis imports into Ireland from his mansion in Marbella, Spain. He remains at liberty despite a long rap sheet. 

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