Man had rocket launcher in Straffan

A ‘trusted lieutenant’ of a south Dublin criminal gang has been sentenced to ten years for transporting a machine gun, a rocket launcher and cocaine through Kildare.

A ‘trusted lieutenant’ of a south Dublin criminal gang has been sentenced to ten years for transporting a machine gun, a rocket launcher and cocaine through Kildare.

Jason Smyth was caught with almost €70,000 worth of cocaine in his car following a large garda surveillance operation by the Organised Crime Unit.

He later admitted to transporting a hold-all bag containing an AK74 assault rifle, an M8 grenade launcher and a Russian-made RPG 22 rocket launcher from Saggart to a lock-up unit in Longstown, Straffan, Co Kildare. Both rocket launchers were fitted with warheads.

Smyth (29), originally from Kildare Road, Crumlin but with an address at St Mel’s Road, Longford pleaded guilty to possession of €69,500 worth of cocaine and possession of the firearms on May 12, 2010 at Straffan, Co Kildare. He was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten years with three suspended.

Detective Garda Peter Ronan told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that a surveillance operation had been put in place to investigate organised criminal activity in the city.

He said gardai received confidential information about a large scale distribution of drugs and firearms and that a drugs handover was to take place on the Naas Road near Kill.

Gardai observed Smyth driving a Fiat Doblo van from Keating’s Park in Rathcoole to the Naas Road while another man, described in court as ‘Mr H’ was driving behind him in a Ford Transit van.

Gardai were told a blue Opel Astra van was to be involved in the drugs handover. The handover took place that afternoon on the hard shoulder on the Naas Road involving the Fiat Doblo van, the Ford Transit van and a blue Opel Astra van.

Smyth drove the Fiat Doblo van back to Keating’s Yard in Rathcoole while ‘Mr H’ followed behind in the Ford Transit van. The Opel Astra van was stopped and 992.9 grams of cocaine valued at €69,500 was located hidden behind the passenger seat.

Armed gardai approached Smyth and ‘Mr H’ in Keating’s Yard and directed them to get out of their vehicles.

“Mr H was observed trying to escape and threw a key and fob onto a trailer while Smyth was detained,” said Det Gda Ronan.

The keys opened a unit at Longstown in Straffan where 12 green barrels and two cardboard boxes were found.

Nine packages of cocaine valued at €630,000 were hidden in the barrels along with a hold-all containing the weapons.

It was accepted in court that Smyth was not charged with possession of the €630,000 worth of drugs.

When questioned by gardai, Smyth admitted he had been instructed by ‘Mr H’ to transport the hold-all containing the rifle and rocket launchers from Saggart to Keating’s Park in Rathcoole and onto the unit at Longstown, Straffan.

Smyth, who has four previous minor convictions, said he was not aware the bag contained the weapons but accepted he transported them.

He admitted he was being paid €700 from ‘Mr H’ to deliver the €69,500 worth of cocaine to the driver of the Opel Astra van on the Naas Road.Det Gda Ronan agreed with defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC that Smyth, although a “trusted lieutenant” for transporting the drugs, was not at the upper scale of the drugs operation.

“He regularly worked as an electrician installing alarms and security cameras but in 2007 ran into financial difficulties when he became unemployed and was using cocaine at the time,” Mr O’Higgins said.

“His unemployment made him vulnerable to being used as a mule to haul the drugs,” Mr O’Higgins explained.

“He accepted responsibility for carrying the hold-all and the €69,500 worth of drugs but had no control or say what went into the lock-up unit in Straffan,” defence counsel added.

Det Gda Ronan agreed Smyth was “on the factory floor carrying out instructions.”

Judge Patrick McCartan praised gardai for their police work on disrupting the activities of the gang by recovering a significant quantity of drugs and dangerous weapons.

“The defendant was in a position of a trusted lieutenant and an active member of the gang in question but it is tragic that he comes before the court as a well educated, gifted and capable of good, honest work, despite knowingly lending himself to the operation of this gang,” said Judge McCartan.