Retired top cop on how he became undercover detective to take down heroin kingpin Larry Dunne
Former Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, who worked as a detective during the 1980s, said he was stabbed with syringes and even had flesh bitten off during street arrestsi
A retired top cop has revealed how he became an undercover detective to take down heroin kingpin Larry Dunne.
Former Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, who worked as a detective during the 1980s, said he was stabbed with syringes and even had flesh bitten off during street arrests when he worked as part of a garda team known as ‘The Mockies’, who were fake drug addicts.
Speaking about his experiences in the latest episode of The Case I Can’t Forget, O’Sullivan recalls the extraordinary inside story of this ground-breaking investigation and explains how the case stuck with him for the rest of his career.
His investigation led to a four-year game of cat and mouse as he set out to bring down Ireland’s first ever heroin drug lord, Larry Dunne.
O’Sullivan’s job at the time was to pose as a drug user, infiltrate the upper echelons of Dunne’s gang, and gather enough evidence to arrest and charge Larry Dunne with drug offences.
He said: “A tsunami of heroin suddenly hit Dublin, it went from bad to disastrous overnight.
“The guards were never going to give up.”
Larry Dunne had a well-known nickname on the streets of Dublin, ‘Larry Who Doesn’t Carry’, so O’Sullivan’s challenge was to find him actually in possession of narcotics.
Dealer by dealer, he worked his way up Dunne’s drug dealing pyramid, intent on arresting the boss himself.
The top cop, who joined the force in 1977, added: “Nobody had been applied in an undercover capacity to work in drugs in Ireland. It was a dangerous, challenging environment.
“It was very violent, and a case of trying to make the best decision as the case unfolded at street level. Violence was just an occupational hazard.
“You took certain risks, it became an occupational hazard. Violence was just part and parcel of what went on.”
His undercover investigations delivered a breakthrough when he discovered Dunne and his inner circle had started using the drugs they were selling, which the former cop says was Dunne’s fatal flaw.
He continued: “The drugs made them careless. They began to think they were invincible. But they had to be lucky all the time. We only had to be lucky once.”
Through intelligence, O’Sullivan found out that the drugs were being held in the Dunne family home and a rapidly-organised search of the property uncovered IR£60,000 of heroin stashed in his young daughter’s bedroom.
Gardai now had the evidence they needed to arrest Dunne and charge him with drug trafficking.
But the master criminal proved elusive and on the first day of his trial, he escaped from court and disappeared.
Despite being caught, Dunne ramped up his operation from the Costa del Sol and expanded his network of dealers.
O’Sullivan concluded: “Young people were dying. Communities were devastated. He was making profits. He was a mercenary.
“The people that worked with them were mercenaries. They didn’t care.”
The new episode of The Case I Can’t Forget airs on Wednesday, December 16, on RTE One at 9.35pm