Northern Ireland

Gun smuggler Paul Edward Meehan jailed for 21 years

A County Kildare man has been jailed for 21 years for plotting to run drugs and counterfeit cigarettes into Northern Ireland two years ago.

Paul Meehan, 36, was caught during an international police operation against criminal gangs which stretched from Dublin to Belfast and Holland.

He had arranged for 37 guns to be brought into Ireland along with ammunition, silencers and drugs.

He was described as a dangerous criminal with contacts across Europe.

Meehan, from The Crescent in Sallins, admitted 10 charges at Belfast Crown Court including conspiring to possess firearms, ammunition and drugs between 29 July and 3 September, 2008.

He also admitted smuggling illegal cigarettes.

As well as the guns and ammunition, he had attempted to smuggle in 14kgs of heroin and 5kgs of cannabis.

All the items were destined for criminal gangs in Dublin.

'Dangerous'

Meehan was arrested in a Belfast hotel in September 2008 after a sting operation involving the Dutch police, the PSNI and the Garda.

He is a cousin of Dublin gangster Brian Meehan, the only man jailed for the 1996 murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

Sentencing Paul Meehan on Tuesday, Mr Justice Stephens told him he was "devoid of insight and remorse" and would readily re-engage in supplying guns to criminal gangs.

Speaking outside the court, PSNI Detective Superintendent Essie Adair said he was "delighted" at the sentence given to a "dangerous criminal".

"I think it sends out a very clear message that international organised crime will not be tolerated," he said.

Det Supt Adair also paid tribute to the Irish and Dutch police.

"Without them and their co-operation the investigation could not have progressed and it shows that when we all work together, the results are significant," he said.

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