DRUG MOB HELL
I was forced to pay gang €39,000 to settle my son’s debt – we were living in absolute terror, says Dublin mum
- Published: 7:00, 2 May 2023
A MUM who lost her son to heroin addiction was forced to pay a crime gang around €39,000 to settle his debt after “living in absolute fear and terror”.
And Annette Kinehane, 66, also warned how lethal drugs mobs are recruiting deprived eight-year-old children to their ranks by offering them food as bribes to store their drugs.
The brave pensioner, from south Dublin, spoke out after gangland killer Wayne Cooney, 32, received a three-year sentence last week for demanding €11,000 from a terrified mother in April, 2019.
Cooney — who was prosecuted by the Garda investigation team led by Det Sgt Daniel Charles — demanded cash from the woman just one month before he shot dead Jordan Davis, 22, as the dad pushed his four-month-old son in Coolock.
Drug-related intimidation is a priority for Assistant Commissioner Angela Willis and her team of investigators in the capital under Operation Fogra, which is part of the Garda National Strategy under Operation Tara.
And Annette — who lost son John to heroin addiction ten years ago — hopes her experience can help other families.
She said: “I personally know of one man who was stabbed to death over a €50 drug debt — when is this misery going to stop?
“I had a fella with a hammer on the doorstep and a fella with a gun — we were living in absolute fear and terror.
“I reckon I spent between €36,000 and €39,000 and I owe just under €6,000 now to the loan companies.
“Everything I took out was paid to criminal gangs and it breaks my heart to see the shocking levels of drug intimidation continuing.
“I also know that kids as young as eight are being targeted because they’re desperate and this is a form of grooming — it’s heartbreaking.
“Thankfully the landscape is a lot different now and I would encourage families not to let these parasites win.”
Annette added: “I’m glad the Gardai take this issue seriously with Operation Fogra because ordinary people are getting caught up in drugs all the time.
“Nobody can appreciate the fear that families endure unless they have been through it themselves. And that’s why it’s important that the proper support measures are in place to help families.
“When a family is being intimidated it’s no way to live — it’s merely an existence.
“The fact that someone was convicted of intimidation last week shows this matter is being taken seriously. There was a time when my son’s debt was €8,000, but I had to pay €13,000 because of the interest — this is the reality of what families are experiencing.
“I want families to know that where there is life, there is hope. If the right environment exists for people to come forward and seek help they should do so immediately.”
Annette also told us: “My son died so somebody can live in a posh house, have a Rolex watch and live a lifestyle that is funded by the misery that me, my family and ultimately my son endured — this is wrong.”
As part of our special investigation into the issue of drug-related intimidation, we also spoke to Det Insp John Moroney from Operation Fogra, who’s based in the Gardai’s DMR North Division.
Det Insp Moroney, who works under the command of Det Supt David Kennedy and also manages a team of detectives, told how the issue is a key priority for cops.
The officer said: “We strive to support victims and communities and achieve our mission to keep people safe. In the DMR North, dedicated resources have been deployed to target offenders and to support victims due to the scale of investigative activities in which we are engaged.
“Intimidation can take a number of different forms and the primary offences are those of threats to kill or cause serious harm, demanding money with menaces, criminal damage, arson, assault, aggravated burglary, offensive weapons offences and organised crime offences. The intimidation can be aimed at the drug user. However, the families and loved ones of drug users are also sometimes targeted.
“It’s important people understand that when they engage with drugs they are engaging directly or indirectly with organised gangs.”
In a direct appeal to families who have been targeted by gangs, Det Insp Moroney added: “There are options and we encourage victims to report drug related intimidation to An Garda Siochana — this is done on a confidential basis.
“We will provide them with advice and support irrespective of whether they wish to pursue a formal complaint. The local drug task force are also available to support families and victims.
“We are committed to working with other agencies and indeed the communities within which we serve as part of the Drug Related Intimidation and Violence Engagement scheme which is being rolled out nationally to support victims.”
LARGE NUMBER OF ARRESTS
Det Insp Moroney also told how Operation Fogra has been “very successful” in the DMR North.
He said: “The operation is demonstrating to the public that we will support victims and arising from this we are receiving regular reports and have a large number of investigations ongoing. We have made a large number of arrests including persons who are heavily involved in criminality.
“A number of cases are making their way through court and convictions have been secured.
“We are demonstrating to victims and communities that they have options available to them and that those engaged in intimidation can be confronted through the criminal justice system.”
Others convicted of drug-related intimidation include Dylan Cronin, 22, caged for 18 months for attempting to extort €25,000 from a family in north Dublin.