Booming drugs trade has reached every part of Ireland despite Covid lockdowns

Published date08 May 2021
AuthorConor Lally
The raids illustrated a few things. Drugs have reached every part of the State and the trade is booming, despite every pub and nightclub in the country having been shut for the previous six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most significantly, the money - the biggest cash haul ever discovered in a gangland operation in the Republic - was not owned by the Kinahan cartel. Instead, it was owned by a gang barely known by the public, but known in the media as "The Family".

The tag is a misnomer, since only two of the west Dublin gang's leading members are related. However, they have taken over prime position from the Kinahan cartel's Irish operation following a slow and steady climb away from tabloid headlines.

So what of the Irish drugs trade? What condition is it in after more than a year of lockdown? And just who are "The Family" and how have they quietly grown so much to challenge the supremacy of the Kinahans?

Gangland figures Everything in gangland has been in flux since the Regency Hotel killing in February 2016 when the feud between the Kinahans and Gerry Hutch erupted into the public glare, with the death of

Kinahan loyalist David Byrne.

The Regency attacks have damaged both sides. Dozens have been jailed. Others have been forced to flee abroad to escape the Garda, their rivals, or from having had their assets seized. "It was a disaster; an unmitigated disaster for them from every point of view," says one senior garda.

Convulsions followed, including a series of killings of young men in their early 20s in north Dublin - none of which were related to the Kinahan-Hutch feud. "That has probably created a bit of a void in terms of who's going to continue the trade," said Pat Leahy, deputy commissioner at the time.

While younger, less experienced criminals fought openly, others such as the gang known as "The Family" quietly fed off the carcass of the Kinahan cartel's Irish operation, hampered as it has been by Garda surveillance.

"The Family" gang gets its name from brothers, Brian (43) and Philip Grendon (45). When Brian Grendon was aged 25 in 2002, and then of Greenfort Drive, Ronanstown, Dublin, he was jailed for six years for his role in a €1.5 million heroin deal.

Philip Grendon - with previous addresses at Greenfort Drive, Ronanstown and Spiddal Road, Ballyfermot - was jailed in Spain for seven years for drug crimes. Spanish police in 2014 found suitcases containing cocaine valued at €3.8 million in a hotel in Valencia; one of which Grendon had...

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