Gardai seize key ledgers linked to drug lord
Published 20/07/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI have seized a series of files that they believe contain the financial accounts of the Irish branch of the international drug trafficking empire allegedly led by Christy Kinahan.
Officers from the Garda National Drugs Unit recovered the ledgers when they raided an address in Dublin's north inner city, it was learned last night.
Detectives are now carrying out a detailed examination of the accounts, which spell out cash transactions totalling more than €1m.
The garda raid was part of an intensive investigation by detectives into suspected associates of 53-year-old Kinahan, who was the main target of a two-year operation, codenamed Shovel, that resulted in 20 arrests in Spain, 11 in the UK and one here in May.
Kinahan's assets portfolio is reckoned to be worth at least €250m and includes properties identified here, in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus, Dubai and South Africa.
Only four of those detained in Spain remain in custody and they include Kinahan and two of his sons. They were all detained on the Costa del Sol as part of police inquiries into drug trafficking, money laundering and falsification of documents.
Kinahan's alleged right-hand man, Dubliner John Cunningham, was among those granted bail.
It is now believed that it could take between two and four years before the case against the suspects comes to trial in Spain.
Two further arrests have been made by police following the seizure of computer equipment from properties in Marbella and Estepona. One of those arrested is from south-west Dublin and is well known to gardai. He is suspected of being linked to some of Kinahan's main associates. The second man was born in the UK.
Gardai from the National Drugs Unit were in Spain last week for further talks on the progress of the international police inquiries.
Officers here have already seized a huge amount of documentation, including legal and financial files, bank accounts and company records following 55 searches in central and west Dublin and Ashbourne, Co Meath, in May.
But the capture of the ledgers in the north inner city is regarded as a significant coup for the drugs unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau as they build up a dossier to be used against the main suspects.
Gardai are also continuing their inquiries into a betting racket that they believe was used to launder at least €2.5m of the profits gleaned from drug trafficking.
According to officers, a key associate of Kinahan was in charge on the laundering but left control of the gambling to one of his trusted allies, a 29-year-old ticket tout from Dublin. This man focused mainly on punting, particularly on horses and greyhounds, but also on football.
Documentation seized by gardai showed that the betting racket managed to launder €2.5m while forfeiting only €200,000 to €300,000 in dockets on losing bets.
The punter did not place many substantial bets to ensure that he did not arouse suspicions in the betting fraternity. Instead, he concentrated on volume and carried out the laundering by selecting horses, dogs or teams that were regarded by bookies as "hot favourites".
The short odds available meant that the profits from a winning bet were not huge but for the punter they represented a big success as he collected his money back and his winnings in "clean money" from the bookies.