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Sunday, 2 March 2008

South Armagh bandit gangs crime web involving a number of self-styled 'Untouchables'.

The criminal activity being probed includes damage to dwellings and vehicles, assaults, houses burgled and the occupants attacked and threatened ongoing cross-border probe into the horrific killing of the young South Armagh man, Paul Quinn, 21, who was bludgeoned to death at a shed on the republic side of the border in Co Monaghan last October, has led to the exposure in recent days of a crime web involving a number of self-styled 'Untouchables'.And it is understood the gang's reputed ring-leader, who is in his mid-twenties, is based in north Louth, but also operates in the south Armagh area.This emerged earlier in the week in the wake of disclosures relating to the theft of vehicles and other machinery from sites in the border area.Detectives probing the movements of some former associates of the murder victim are now believed to have obtained the names of a number of individuals involved in a recent spate of criminal incidents in the south Armagh and north Louth areas.Some members of the gang are also understood to have been involved in an internecine 'war' over the theft of more than 10,000 litres of diesel fuel in an incident in which a tanker was driven to a yard and unloaded.According to one source in south Armagh yesterday: "We believe the net is now closing on this particular gang which has been involved in a spate of incidents in recent times.
"Detectives are now aware that the carry-on involving these so-called 'Untouchables' goes to the very heart of the atrocity of the murder of Paul Quinn."
It also emerged in recent days that some of the gang have had material posted on a Bebo website which also carried some photographs, including one of the murdered Cullyhanna man.It is understood the key figure in the gang has already been questioned by the gardai and the PSNI over some recent incidents in the Louth area, and also at Crossmaglen and Cullyhanna, but there was insufficient evidence for an arrest.The key suspect is also understood to have been linked by police to an armed robbery in the area, as well as the theft of a mechanical digger from a site in Co Louth.Last week, a Sinn Fein councillor was verbally attacked and given a death threat by a group of youths after emerging from a meeting convened by the Paul Quinn Support Group in Newry.Cllr Brendan Curran has confirmed he has asked the PSNI to investigate the incident in which it is believed some of the individuals who attacked him as he left Newry Town Hall, had links with diesel laundering. Meanwhile, the Garda and PSNI have said that inquiries into the Quinn murder are ongoing, and according to gardai, the investigation is now ''heavily centred'' on the collation of forensic evidence.

Detectives now believe some members of the gang involved in the murder of Paul Quinn had former links with the IRA, but had apparently split from the organisation some years ago


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