By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — A dispute with a ruthless drug gang is thought to have been behind the brutal killing of three young Irishmen in the Dutch coastal resort town of Scheveningen near The Hague last week.
The motive for the seaside slaughter in an expensive rented apartment is still not clear, but the investigation is focusing on an enforcement killing by a gang involved in the extensive drug-smuggling network with Ireland and Britain.
The results of DNA tests and dental record comparisons are still awaited but there appears little doubt the victims were Damien Monahan, 24, from Ennis, Co. Clare, and two brothers from Bansha, Co. Tipperary, Vincent Costello, 29, and Morgan Costello, 21.
Dutch police have been tight-lipped about their investigation but it is believed that equipment to make pills was found in the apartment.
The three men suffered barbaric torture before they were murdered. They were slashed with knifes, savagely beaten and had their genitals mutilated. One was pumped with a polyurethane compound that expands to about five times its bulk before hardening. Afterward, they were shot.
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It is believed that the killers left gas on in the apartment, but when it failed to ignite they returned and doused the bodies in petrol before setting them on fire.
Firemen were quickly on the scene and stopped the blaze from spreading. The three are thought to have died about six days before the bodies were discovered.
It appears Morgan Costello died because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had only recently gone to Holland on a brief holiday.
Initially, it was feared a Limerickman might also be a victim as his passport was found in the apartment. It was later discovered he had lost his passport and was back working in Ireland after traveling home on temporary documents.
Holland has become a staging post for the drug trade smuggling into Britain and Ireland and there has been increasing cooperation between the Gardai and Dutch police.
The gang that murdered journalist Veronica Guerin had sourced much of the cannabis in Holland. A number of the top drug barons on Garda wanted lists are living there following the crackdown on the gangland assets by the Criminal Assets Bureau.