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 ie ‘Eircode gang’ fill drugs void created by crackdown in feud-hit town and death of Cornelius Price  Story by Ken Fo
Cocaine Production At An All Time High Part One
A new gang has entered the void left by the Garda crackdown on feuding gangs in Drogheda, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Keane Mulready-Woods
Cocaine Production At An All Time High Part Two

The Louth town’s feud has already led to four murders and a clampdown on the Maguire gang and the faction controlled by their rivals.

But a gang of young criminals who use an Eircode as their identity symbol have now become prominent players in the area’s drugs market.

“National garda units as well as very targeted local policing have made huge inroads into the activities of the long-established gangs in Drogheda,” a senior source said.

Angry unionists tell EU leaders to stay away from peace deal events

Columba McVeigh’s sister on search for her teenage brother: ‘Our hopes were dashed before, but we hope he will be found’

“This has left an opening for other crime gangs to emerge and this gang is using the Drogheda feud to their own advantage and have moved in on a lot of the drug dealing turf. They have identified the gap in the market and are now the main players.

“Every week there are more and more incidents linked to them and in particular what is showing up is their drug debt-related intimidation tactics.

“In recent weeks gang members have been issuing threatening phone calls and calling to innocent family members’ homes for the purpose of the collection of drugs debts and there has been assaults as well, some of them serious in nature.”

It has emerged the gang have been using different social-media platforms to deal drugs, often in smaller quantities but sometimes in bulk.

“This organisation has close links to criminals operating in north Co Dublin, particularly in the Balbriggan area,” a source said.

“There is a growing concern that what are now incidents of serious intimidation and assaults can quickly escalate to murder as was seen before in the Drogheda feud,” the source added.

In 2020, the Irish Independent revealed that gardaí were deeply concerned about the increasingly violent activities of gangs of teenagers who have been naming their crews after the Eircodes of the towns and areas they live in to distinguish themselves from rival factions.

The Drogheda gang was involved in some of the violence at that time but their members are now older and a “lot more organised”, according to sources.

The Drogheda feud started in earnest in July 2018 when gang boss Owen Maguire was left paralysed after being shot by Robbie Lawlor – who was himself murdered as part of the same criminal dispute in April 2020. But it was the brutal murder and dismemberment of the body of Keane Mulready Woods (17) in January 2020 by Lawlor that elevated the feud into an international news story.

A key figure in the bitter gangland warfare was Cornelius Price, who died in a Welsh hospital on February 19.

The 41-year-old gangster, considered a key member of the Maguire faction, was charged with conspiring to falsely imprison and blackmail two brothers in July 2020 in the UK.

Of course what happened that unfortunate child led to huge garda attention on those two gangs. But there is now a new gang in place

He was unable to stand trial with his five alleged associates after suffering a brain disease.

The anti-Maguire faction has also been left seriously weakened by garda operations against them.

Two brothers, who are considered this gang’s leaders, are forced to live abroad and many of their key associates are either dead or locked up in prison.

This includes Paul Crosby (27) who is serving a 10-year sentence for helping his crime gang carry out the murder of Mulready Woods.

Partial remains, including the teenager’s limbs, were found in a bag in Moatview Gardens, Coolock, Dublin, on January 13, 2020.

Gardaí believe the gang had planned to deliver the dismembered body parts to a criminal in the area who had been in a dispute with Lawlor.

Two days later, the teenager’s head and hands were found in the boot of a burned-out car at Trinity Terrace near Ballybough in Dublin.

Keane’s torso was found during a search of wasteground at Rathmullen Park in Drogheda on March 11, 2021.

“Of course what happened that unfortunate child led to huge garda attention on those two gangs. But there is now a new gang in place,” a senior source said.

“There now needs to be the resources and the will to tackle this crew or else everything will go backwards in Drogheda,” the source added.

Angry unionists tell EU leaders to stay away from peace deal events

Columba McVeigh’s sister on search for her teenage brother: ‘Our hopes were dashed before, but we hope he will be found’

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.


Cocaine as easy to buy in Galway as ‘bag of sugar’ as almost as much seized in eight weeks as all of 2022 (

Cocaine as easy to buy in Galway as ‘bag of sugar’ as almost as much seized in eight weeks as all of 2022, Story by Andrew Hamilton

Cocaine as easy to buy in Galway as ‘bag of sugar’ as almost as much seized in eight weeks as all of 2022 (



Cocaine is now as easy to source in rural Galway “as a bag of sugar” with young people increasingly turning to the drug because of the “exorbitant” increase in the price of alcohol.

That is according to members of the County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC), who yesterday heard that almost as much cocaine was seized by Gardaí in Galway in the first eight weeks of this year as was seized in all of 2022.

Galway Chief Superintendent, Gerard Roche, has put a renewed focus on breaking the drugs supply-chain in the county since taking control of the Galway Garda Division last November.

The Galway Garda Drug Unit is now one of the largest in the country outside of Dublin and boasts two sergeants and 20 gardaí, with the focus now on tackling the sale and supply of drugs, rather than simple possession.

In January and February of this year, €120,000 worth of cocaine was seized in Galway City and County, compared to €140,000 seized in the entire of 2022.

The meeting heard that this figure was “only the tip of the iceberg” in terms of cocaine use in Galway, with Fine Gael councillor, Peter Roche, blaming increases in the price of alcohol for pushing people towards using cocaine.

“I don’t think that there is a community anywhere in the county which is not suffering because of drugs. It’s not unusual these days to see people resorting to drugs because of the rising cost of alcohol,” he said.

“People need to socialise and I think that the extortionate cost of alcohol is an issue and it is driving drug use.”

Headford councillor, Andrew Reddington (FG), called for a focus to be placed on education in schools and increased efforts to prevent young people from starting to experiment with illegal drugs.

“It’s as easy to get a bag of cocaine as it is to get a bag of sugar in rural Galway at the moment,” he said.


Related video: Cocaine Production At An All-Time High (unbranded - Newsworthy)

Indonesia Prison 


 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 1 of 8

Man (22) accused of drug debt extortion and dealing cannabis through Instagram

Tom Tuite June 10 2022 Irish Independent
Jordan Duff
Jordan Duff


 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 2 of 8

 Crack Cocaine And The Community


 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 3 of 8

 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 4 of 8

 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 5 of 8

 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 6 of 8


 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 7 of 8


 Crack Cocaine And The Community

RTE Investigates Open Drug Dealin In the Irish Community Part 8 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 1 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 2 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 3 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 4 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 5 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 6 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 7 of 8

Cocaine - Inside Mexico's Drug Labs -Narco State Part 8 of 8


The Psychedelic Frontier - Part 1 of 5

The Psychedelic Frontier - Part 2 of 5

The Psychedelic Frontier- Part 3 of 5

The Psychedelic Frontier - Part 4 of 5

The Psychedelic Frontier - Part 5 of 5


DC Nicholas McFadden of West Yorkshire police jailed for 23 years for stealing £1m of drugs and plotting to sell them
Police line tape
Press Association - Thu 4 Apr 2013 

A corrupt detective who stole enormous amounts of seized drugs and conspired to sell them back on to the streets with his brother, earning them at least £600,000, has been jailed for 23 years.

Detective Constable Nicholas McFadden of West Yorkshire police, 38, took more than £1m of heroin, cocaine and cannabis by exploiting "slack" procedures while working at secret evidence stores.

He and his brother, Simon McFadden, 41, who was jailed for 16 years, conspired to sell the drugs back to underworld contacts.

A judge sentencing the pair at Leeds crown court said the men had been motivated by an "insatiable greed" that made them "so much money they simply didn't know how to spend it", but which ultimately led to their downfall.

The brothers lived a lavish lifestyle, splashing out on exotic holidays, designer clothing and jewellery, expensive artworks, home improvements and private number plates for their luxury cars, jurors in the five-week trial heard.

When police raided Nicholas McFadden's family home in Castleford, West Yorkshire, they found almost £160,000 in banknotes stuffed into sacks in his garage and £20,000 hidden around his house. They also discovered £6,000 concealed in his vehicle.

On his arrest, Nicholas McFadden had £430,000 which could not be traced to legitimate sources.

Simon McFadden had £160,000 which could not be accounted for and claimed it was casino winnings. He had, in reality, lost £8,000 at the casino in the period in question.

Karen McFadden, who lived with Simon in Harehills, Leeds, was spared an immediate jail term for the sake of her teenage son after admitting money laundering.

She was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years after the court heard she revelled in their new-found wealth but did not know how her husband was making the money, of which she spent £11,000 at the upmarket department store Harvey Nichols.

The detective was caught after regularly paying cash into ATMs, which triggered a bank's security alert and police were informed. When he was arrested, he told police he found bags of cash in a ditch by the M62 and later claimed he made it selling illegal steroids.

Judge Tom Bayliss said: "The two of you were putting back on the streets drugs which successful police operations had taken off the streets. And in doing so you became very rich."

However, he added: "The effect on all of you is devastating. For a brief period, crime paid for your extravagances – but now you have a lifetime to regret it."

He told Nicholas McFadden, who joined the force in 2000 and siphoned off drugs being held as evidence when he worked for a special organised crime group: "In the course of your duties you had access to controlled drugs, and you abused your position to steal and trade in those drugs.

"Drugs that were taken off the street by your colleagues were put back on the street by you and your brother, Simon. Drugs like heroin – noted for the misery that it brings to those who have the misfortune to be addicted to it and for the crime that is caused by those desperate wretches to get their hands on the money to buy it.

"Your motive was simple – greed.

"By your actions, Nicholas McFadden, you have brought yourself down from a position commanding respect to the life of a vulnerable prisoner with no prospect other than financial ruin upon your release."

Turning to the disgraced detective's brother, Judge Bayliss said: "You, Simon McFadden, are a hard-working man reduced to criminality by greed."

Bayliss criticised the West Yorkshire police security measures in place at the time, saying they "were not operated as robustly as one would expect" at the secret evidence stores, which housed guns, massive amounts of drugs and other contraband.

"The system seems to have relied to a large extent upon the integrity of those operating it and, as a consequence, it was open to abuse.

"Nicholas McFadden, you took advantage of that weakness. You exploited shortcomings and exploited individuals to steal." 

The charges were elevated to aggravated because Bishop allegedly gave drugs to a minor and did so within 1,000 feet of a school, the Bangor Daily News reported.

According to the newspaper, Bishop was arrested at about 4:15 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of Narraguagus High School in Harrington, six days after resigning and serving out a two-weeks’ notice. He had joined the Calais Police Department in May 2019.

“We are very surprised and concerned about the allegations against Mr. Bishop, as we are well aware that if they are proven, this is not just a black eye to our department, but to all of law enforcement,” Calais Police Chief David Randall told the newspaper. “We believe that all law enforcement officers must be held to a higher standard to keep our justice system above reproach.”

Drug agents said they found 110 matching hydrocodone pills from Bishop’s “police duty” bag in his home, and prosecutors allege he was trading drugs for things besides cash, WGME reported.

“This investigation revealed that he had been exchanging hydrocodone pills with the state’s witness for sexual favor,” State Assistant Attorney General John Risler told the TV station.

Cox Media Group

Former Maine police officer accused of selling drugs from cruiser, sometimes while on duty

February 10, 2021 at 5:08 pm PSTBy Kelli Dugan, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

CALAIS, Maine — A former police officer in Calais, Maine, is facing multiple charges after a investigators alleged he often sold drugs from his cruiser, sometimes while still on duty.

According to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, 53-year-old Jeffrey Bishop, 53, of Cherryfield has been charged 

Police officer who stole drug dealers' cash jailed

By Tom Symonds
Home Affairs correspondent - Published 13 May

A Metropolitan Police officer who pretended to stop and search drug dealers so he could steal their money has been jailed for eight years.

Kashif Mahmood seized hundreds of thousands of pounds for an organised crime gang controlled from Dubai.

The gang received information about when money was on the move so that Mahmood could intercept it - in uniform - using police cars.

Four other men and a woman received sentences of up to 16 years.

The sentences follow an investigation which benefited from the penetration of the Encrochat mobile phone network in 2020.

Clockwise from top L: Shazad Khan, Shabaz Khan, Moshin Khan, Ioan Gherghel and Maria Shah

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Tomlinson said Kashif Mahmood had abused his position of "power, trust and responsibility".


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick called the case "shocking" but said she was "delighted" the Met's anti corruption officers "were able to mount this operation and to catch those people and to actually have a big impact on an organised criminal network".

Of corrupt officers, Dame Cressida added: "They betray the rest of us and we deplore this form of corruption or any corruption."

Kashif Mahmood receiving a police commendation
Mahmood was a police officer for 10 years, receiving a string of commendations before being dismissed in November

The defendants pleaded guilty to offences including acquiring criminal property, money laundering and drug supply.

It was a sophisticated criminal operation based on tip-offs from a shadowy figure in Dubai, named in court as Mutjaba Neazmand.

Using the code name "SSNew" on the Encrochat network, the court heard he was involved in large-scale drug dealing, but also directing gang members to "steal back" the proceeds.

UK 'jobs'

Neazmand would contact the gang's leader in the UK, Mohsin Khan, with information about "jobs" - large amounts of money being carried by drug couriers.

Khan, whose Encrochat nickname was "AcquaPlus" would pass on the details to police officer Kashif Mahmood, who had served in the Met for 10 years.

Mahmood would book out police cars from Stoke Newington Police station, and pick up an accomplice, Ioan Gherghel, to pose as his partner.

Bags of cannabis 
The police seized 20kg of cannabis at the home of one of Khan brothers

Backed up by Khan and his two brothers, they would then try to stop the couriers and "seize" their money.

Often the couriers had been given the cash by the Khan gang as part of a drug deal.

When it was stolen back by the Khans and Mahmood, they were left out of pocket, and at risk of reprisals from their criminal associates.

The scam was so successful the gang seized more than a million pounds, prosecutors believe.


By March 2020 "SSNew" or Neazmand, the mastermind in Dubai, was boasting in Encrochat messages that: "We can do 1500m and I still say to u bro we do more."

"This system is in our hand. We can do it unlimited."

Police say Encrochat was almost exclusively used by criminals who communicated freely, believing their conversations were encrypted.

It was penetrated by French police and intelligence agency cyber security experts in early 2020, and, as a result, more than 1,500 suspects have been arrested so far.

Chingford surveillance

The Khan gang were caught following a number of "jobs", including one where they inadvertently targeted a drug courier, while he was under police surveillance.

Prosecutors believe the gang had handed him half a million pounds, in return for drugs.

Mahmood and Gherghel, also dressed as police officers, then stopped the man's car in Chingford, East London, searched it, and took the money back.

This meant that the gang now had both the cash and the drugs.

But surveillance officers belonging to a police proactive money laundering team were, by chance, watching what happened.

They stopped Mahmood to find out why the search of the target's car had been carried out, and requested he create an intelligence report.

Mahmood's body worn video camera was inadvertently triggered and captured pictures of Gherghel, dressed as a police officer and sitting in the police car with him

Still from Mahmood's bodycam at the Chingford stop and search
A still from Mahmood's bodycam which was accidentally triggered during the Chingford stop and search

Prosecutors said Mahmood was forced to go to his police station, despite being signed off on sick leave to complete the report.

It was used by police as evidence against him.

They also analysed extensive mobile phone evidence to build up a picture of the gang's communications and movements.

Following arrests, large amounts of cash were found in the conspirators' homes.

Seized cash
Cash seized at an address shared by Maria Shah, Moshin Khan and Shazad Khan

Maria Shah, a partner of one of the gang, and also convicted of being involved, is believed to have withdrawn a large amount of cash from a safety deposit box facility in Knightsbridge, central London.

When police searched the boxes they were found to be empty.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which worked to ensure the investigation was thorough and impartial, called Mahmood's behaviour "audacious corrupt and criminal".

"His actions were a complete betrayal of public trust and confidence and have no place in policing," said the IOPC's director of major investigations, Steve Noonan.

"While all the evidence we have seen points towards this being an isolated case of police corruption... we have to remain vigilant and will continue to pursue allegations of corruption vigorously."


Numbers seeking crack cocaine treatment up 400% - Health Research Board

Tuesday, 20 Jul 2021

By Fran McNulty - Prime Time -21 Jul 2021

The number of people seeking treatment for addiction to crack cocaine in Ireland has surged by 400% in recent years, according to the latest national figures released by the Health Research Board (HRB).

The number of people seeking treatment for addiction to crack cocaine in Ireland has surged by 400% in recent years, according to the latest national figures released by the Health Research Board (HRB).

More women than men are seeking treatment for addiction to the drug. The figures are included in the latest report from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System, which covers the seven-year period from 2014 to 2020.

The release of the data coincides with a special investigation on the crack cocaine epidemic from RTÉ Investigates and Prime Time.

The investigation, which exposes the scale of open drug dealing in parks and housing estates in Ballymun, involved the secret filming of drug dealers selling drugs in a housing complex on Balbutcher Lane in Ballymun.

In one four-hour period, RTÉ Investigates observed more than 40 potential drug deals.

The HRB has described the crack cocaine issue in Ballymun as "acute".

Dr Anne Marie Carew, from the HRB, said that "crack cocaine users tend to be in large urban cities and they tend to have a more socially disadvantaged background".

"The number started at a very low base, approximately 84 cases. By last year, this was over four hundred and equates to about a 400% increase," Dr Carew said.

"What's different in terms of Ballymun is the rate of crack cocaine in the treatment figures. So approximately one in three cases that are coming to treatment for cocaine use are using crack. And this rate is high. What this is telling us is that the problem in Ballymun is acute."

Crack cocaine, or rock as it is commonly called, is highly addictive and is attributed to a rise in the number of people begging in areas where the drug is being sold.

It differs to a lot of drugs, and it has become an increasing issue.

"One of the things which distinguishes crack cocaine from cocaine is that crack cocaine is smoked so it goes much quicker into your brain," Dermot King, from the Ballymun Youth Action Project, told RTÉ Investigates.

"So it has a much more immediate effect, another distinguishing piece about it is that a lot of other substances they have an automatic stop so if you take a certain amount of heroin you go asleep, you go unconscious, if you take a certain amount of alcohol you go unconscious, whereas crack cocaine doesn’t have a shut down whereas other drugs do have that so it's different in that way as well."

Crack users commonly smoke heroin in conjunction with it. The heroin brings them down from an intense high, to experience the next hit of crack better.

This means that people are becoming poly drug users, which makes recovery even more complex.

Tonight's Prime Time will feature footage from one user who was filmed using the drug explaining their heroin use.

"If you're smoking pipe after pipe, you're not going to get the same high," they said. "So that's why it's good as well to do a line or two to bring you down a little bit, wait a few minutes and then you'll enjoy your next pipe even better."

Another user told RTÉ Investigates about chasing a high from crack cocaine.

"You have no morals. All you care about is drugs, you don't care about your family or anything. You won't look after yourself. You're that far in the depths of depression and shame," they said.

"The minute you have a bit of money in your pocket, your kids come second place. It disgusts you what you'll do."

The statistics published today reveal that, for the first time, cocaine is the most common drug among new cases entering treatment, which would support the overall trend of increasing use of the drug.

During Covid, the numbers entering drug treatment did fall, and cocaine was the only substance that saw an increase in people seeking treatment.

Worryingly, the number of women entering treatment for addiction to crack cocaine has increased by almost 80% in the last two years.

"When we look at gender differences within cocaine treatment, the rate of male cases entering treatment for crack cocaine has remained stable year-on-year," Dr Carew said.

"However, the number of women reporting problem use of crack cocaine has increased by almost 80% since 2018."

One corner in Ballymun, four hours, 42 drug deals: A crack epidemic

For several weeks, RTÉ Investigates monitored several locations in Ballymun where drugs are openly sold on the streets.

By Fran McNulty - Prime Time - 21 Jul 2021

 21 Jul 2021 By Fran McNulty

Prime Time

She is funny, quite witty. She is polite and gentle. On a recent summer's day, we walked along the street together and joked about all sorts of things. She told me about the nice schools she went to as a child, and then as a teenager. About her early career, about how she found her calling when she got the job she had always wanted.

She talked about her parents and family, about growing up in a tight-knit community in Dublin. We ate crisps as we walked along the street chatting. She picked up some treats for one of her children, and we perused several shops. We laughed with the staff, had the banter.

In another world, we might stop off for lunch in a nice restaurant, or even have a drink with friends.

If you've got a picture of two people enjoying the sunshine in Dublin, you will no doubt have drawn a mental picture of how things look. Perception is everything. But I met this woman begging outside a shop.

Lydia, who asked RTÉ Investigates to use a pseudonym to protect her identity, is a chronic drug user.

In Ballymun, drugs are openly sold on the streets, in parks and housing estates

She smokes heroin, crack cocaine, and cannabis, and takes a cocktail of pills to keep herself on track. She buys the pills from street dealers. Buying drugs, she said, is easier than buying sweets. They are available on her doorstep.

Lydia is not exaggerating. Over the course of several weeks, RTÉ Investigates monitored several locations in Ballymun where drugs are openly sold on the streets, in parks and housing estates. One of the busiest dealing spots is an area where senior citizens live at Dolmen Court on Balbutcher Lane.

It's an area where you can see up to 10 people hanging around all day, most days. There are dealers, spotters, couriers and others associated with running the illicit trade.

The location is well chosen: the residents are elderly and less likely to confront the dealers, and there are multiple exit routes if Gardaí arrive. During our filming, they did arrive. But the dealers were gone within seconds, and the visit was futile: the dealing recommenced within 10 minutes.

There are multiple escape routes from Dolmen Court, an area where senior citizens live

Over one week, we secretly filmed the dealers at Dolmen Court, we logged their interactions with buyers and the conversations between the dealers themselves. On one day alone, over a four-hour period, we filmed more than 42 potential drug deals taking place at Dolmen Court.

Sheelagh Brady, a former undercover garda, was shown the footage recorded by RTÉ Investigates on that day.

The operation at Dolmen Court, she said, is "indicative of quite a complex sales and supply event going on."

"40 people over four hours is a significant drugs market," she told RTÉ Investigates.

"It would also say that there's heavy drug use within that area – or people are travelling to that area to purchase drugs."

Ms Brady estimated that one of the dealers filmed by RTÉ Investigates could be making anywhere up to €2,000 per day.

But he was just one dealer at this location, and Dolmen Court is just one location of many across Ballymun where open street dealing has become an everyday sight.

RTÉ Investigates also captured the drug dealers handing their takings over to the so-called "money man".

An alleyway behind Dolmen Court leads into a warren of courtyards

Bundles of notes were quickly counted mere metres from hidden cameras, the men oblivious to the fact that they were being watched and listened to as part of an investigation.

Exchanges like this, Ms Brady said, happen regularly for a reason: the money is the asset.

"The money man is usually a role that somebody plays within these criminal gangs to actually take the money from the scene very quickly," she said.

"He's probably higher up the chain in many respects than the dealer, and probably has links to the supplier of the drugs, to your kingpins."

Ballymun became the focus of the investigation because the Health Research Board describes the crack use there as "acute".

One in three people being treated for cocaine addiction in Ballymun are on crack – higher than in any other part of Dublin.

Dr Anne Marie Carew from the HRB told RTÉ Investigates that the data suggests crack is a growing issue, not just in Ballymun, but in several other parts of the capital, too.

"The areas that had the highest numbers of crack cocaine users in treatment included the inner-city areas. It also included Finglas and Cabra and Tallaght," she said.

Crack cocaine is a growing issue in several other parts of Dublin

In Ballymun, the number of people entering treatment for crack cocaine use has been increasing year on year.

Crack cocaine takes a heavy toll on the body, and Lydia has all of the physical attributes of a crack smoker. She is thin, grey, her hair is thinning. She looks ravaged.

She told me about the hurt she feels, about how her life has gone so wrong. She knows she's an addict, and she hates herself for it. The continued cocktail of drugs helps her deal with it. It's a circle of addiction, which sounds like hell.

Lydia lives to score drugs. She says her heroin use is somewhat under control, but says she simply cannot get a handle on "the rock", or crack cocaine. She says she smokes it a few times a week, but the accounts of home life suggest otherwise.

Lydia is one of many people lost in addiction because of a boom in crack cocaine in Ireland. The drug is tearing through communities, in particular in the capital.

New statistics due to be published later today by the HRB will indicate crack usage has surged here since 2014. But any statistics on increased usage only represent those who came forward seeking addiction treatment. The actual number is probably much higher.

Some gardaí will admit that Ballymun is a kind of "Wild West" when it comes to drug dealing

But statistics aren't really needed to identify the problem. Not only can you spot users like Lydia, but you can see the dealers too.

Ballymun is no different to many other communities in this regard. But it is, even by the admission of some gardaí, a kind of "Wild West" when it comes to drug dealing.

Locals speak about drugs having taken over again. The area still bears the scars of the heroin epidemic of the 1980s.

A large number of people remain on methadone, a heroin replacement treatment, several decades after coming off heroin.

It remains the community with the highest level of people with opiate addiction in the country, 10 times the national average.

That makes it a ripe trading ground for drug dealers selling crack cocaine. People on methadone speak about the dullness of life – they are numbed by the state-sponsored heroin replacement.

If they take crack, they feel alive again. It's why areas like Ballymun have been targeted by the dealers.

Free drug samples are pushed through letterboxes by dealers

Free samples, product being pushed through letterboxes and daily text messages from dealers offering the best "rock" and the best "bobby brown", or heroin, are just some of the things vulnerable people have to contend with.

I've seen the text messages. Dealers start sending them from early in the morning.

The dealers are relentless and persistent. Some of them are grown men, but often they are just teenagers.

You can see them busily buzzing about on their electric bikes and scooters, either running drugs from one dealing post to another, or delivering to someone's house.

One crack user told RTÉ Investigates that the aggressive sales approach makes it virtually impossible to stay clean.

"Even if you tell yourself you are going to get clean, the next morning you are woken by at least 10 text messages from different drug dealers telling you they have the best crack around," they said.

They tell users that they have great deals, where they are, and that they are going to be there all day.

Users typically ask for two rocks of crack cocaine and some heroin

"So as soon as you open your eyes, no matter how good you are thinking, the seed is planted straight away. And it is non-stop. There is no escaping it."

On a sunny Monday, I sat in the undergrowth in a Dublin park.

RTÉ Investigates monitored this area for months. It is a busy crack den.

Pieces of tinfoil, needles, plastic bottles fashioned into crack pipes and human faeces litter the secluded hide out. Just metres away, members of the public pass by, many oblivious to what's going on.

It is one of several areas in the Dublin suburbs where crack users come – they buy the drugs in a nearby housing estates and come here to smoke.

Users approach and ask for "two white and one brown" – two rocks of crack cocaine and some heroin.

The crack is the high. And smoking heroin afterwards brings you right back down, so you can enjoy the next high.

Crack users go to a park, where they seek shelter to smoke their rock

With heroin, you will overdose and pass out, like with alcohol.

But there is no natural stopping point with crack: you could literally smoke pipe after pipe for days, never sleeping. And people do. It's very addictive and very potent.

Take Aisling and Jason, two crack users I encountered in the crack den. Aisling and Jason are not their real names: to protect their identities, we are also using pseudonyms for them.

I could see that they had been smoking – their pipes, illuminated by the summer sun, billowed smoke.

"If we have money, we do it," said Jason. "If we get money during the week, we do it. Crack comes first. It takes over. You can't get enough of it."

Aisling wanted to do another pipe, so Jason lined up the tiny white crumbs of crack cocaine and carefully placed them on the pipe, before lighting it.

She inhaled deeply, holding it in, before exhaling.

"I feel like I'm floating. My heart is racing. I don't have a care in the world," she said.

"All my problems and my worries are just gone."

Aisling and Jason then took out a sheet of tinfoil and smoked another few lines of heroin.

The heroin took away the noticeable shakes that the crack had caused.

Sitting on a supermarket trolley, the pair told me about where crack had led them.

"It's crazy how much it takes over. With heroin, it's a physical sickness: you will go out to rob, but you don't have the energy. You'll do anything to get your next rock – you'll lower yourself, do things you'd never do," said Jason.

"Your morals go out the window, and when it wears off, the depression hits".

This is the reality of being addicted to crack.

The surge in crack in the area led the local Drugs Task Force to commission a report to, "tackle the underlying causes of addiction and crime and to tackle open drug dealing".

It's author, Ballymun resident and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague, concludes in the report, entitled "Ballymun — a Brighter Future", that "open drug dealing is happening on a scale that is seen in very few other communities".


Ballymun was baldy hit by the heroin epidemic in the 1980s and the 1990s


It is a pointed reference to the policing of the drugs industry in Ballymun, and the report constantly points to an under-resourced drugs unit in the area.

I met Mr Montague in Coultry Park, a beautifully planned park built as part of the €800m regeneration of the area.

The former politican pulls no punches when he speaks about what is happening.

"I think that the level of open drug dealing we have here just would not be tolerated in other communities – in more advantaged communities in this country."

Mr Montague is very open about his theory about why Ballymun has seen such a surge in crack cocaine use.

"Unfortunately," he told RTÉ Investigates, "we were one of the areas most badly hit by the heroin epidemic in the 1980s and the 1990s."

"I think they're a very vulnerable population – and we have more people here in this community who are on some form of opiates, whether that's methadone or heroin than any other community in Ireland," he said.

"So for the drug dealers, they kind of had a target audience. And they went after them and they managed to get a lot of them hooked onto crack cocaine."

Ballymun residents are fearful of the gangs that proffer drugs openly on the streets

Locals talk about being afraid of the gangs that are openly selling drugs in the area, in parks, outside shops – even in residential areas like Dolmen Court, where people from all walks of life strolled in to buy drugs.

There were mothers with their children, men in high-viz jackets, and one man wearing a shirt and tie. Ballymun doesn't only have a drug addiction issue with people living there – it has also become a destination for people to come and buy drugs.

It's striking to see normal life go on. Children walk through the dealing area on their way home from school. Older people arrive home with their shopping, trying to avoid making eye contact with the dealers.

It is quite obviously a community living in fear. I met locals outside one of the churches in the parish on a weekday, asking people about the open dealing. One woman said she'd love to speak to us, but is afraid her windows would be put in if anyone recognised her.

But few people, not even Mr Montague, think policing alone will solve the problem.

But he thinks gardaí need to be more visible – and need to stamp out the brazen open dealing.

Ms Brady, who took part in undercover drugs operations, knows the territory better than most people.

Ballymun resident and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague said gardaí need to be more visible in Ballymun

Gardaí could destroy one gang, she said. But another will quickly spawn in its wake.

Instead, the underlying issues of deprivation – the same ones that caused the heroin epidemic in the 1980s – need to be addressed, she told RTÉ Investigates.

"If the previous epidemics are anything to teach us," she said, "it is that this is not going to go away fast – unless we actually get to the root cause of this, and, unless we decide today that enough is enough."

Lydia told me that, even if she wanted to get clean, she doesn't think she could. The drug is being pushed too strongly by the dealers on the street corners of Ballymun.

"The crack is a disgrace," she said, with a straight face and total conviction.

Moments later, begging outside the same shop where I first met her, she counted her takings and rubbed her hands together, concluding she almost had enough to buy her next hit.

"Only €3 to go," she said. "Won't be long now!"