Thursday 29 September 2016

Kinahan cartel will go down - top lawyer

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Kingpin: Christy Kinahan is now the leading figure in the Irish drugs trade. His gang is in a feud with Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
Kingpin: Christy Kinahan is now the leading figure in the Irish drugs trade. His gang is in a feud with Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch

A criminal lawyer in Spain has said Christy Kinahan has no place to hide and will face justice over his global money-laundering and drug-trafficking empire.

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Christy and his sons Christopher and Daniel were arrested during a series of dawn raids on the Costa del Sol more than five years ago as part of Operation Shovel.

Nearly a dozen suspects were arrested in Ireland and the UK as part of the same Europol operation.

The crackdown was part of an international police effort aimed at smashing Kinahan's global money-laundering operations.

Christy Kinahan, the 'untouchable' head of a Europe-wide narcotics cartel, was arrested at his luxury apartment in a private development near Estepona.

Properties owned by the drug lord and his associates were identified across the world and estimated to have a combined value of over €150m.

The properties were mainly residential, but included some business interests, such as pubs and small retail businesses.

Properties were traced in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Dubai, South African, Brazil and Cyprus.

A network of solicitors and accountants in all of those jurisdictions have been used to buy property.

Following his arrest, the underworld boss spent six months on remand in jail, before being bailed.

Since then, a magistrate has continued to investigate the gang - but no one has yet been charged in relation to the operation.

Speaking about the ongoing investigation, Antonio Flores, a lawyer at Lawbird in Spain, said a backlog of cases in the Spanish courts system, had delayed bringing the drugs boss to justice.

He said: "The criminal system courts in Spain are slow. They are overloaded with work. There's a saturation of cases and they can't deal with them as they would like.

"Although the cases all start very spectacularly, with media coverage and dozens of policemen raiding a particular group of criminals, it then tends to die out in court and things just basically seem to fade away.

"Files get buried, so this is a problem that affects most of the cases. It's just endemic to this country."

Mr Flores said it may be another two years before a trial date is set - but insisted that the Kinahan cartel would face their day in court.

"It doesn't get forgotten, it just takes time," he added.

He also dismissed suggestions that the Spanish police weren't pursuing the gang as vigorously as they should because the criminals spend a lot of money in the country.

"That would make police complicit in money laundering. The economy is not based on criminal activity, it's based on tourism," said Mr Flores.

Meanwhile, gardai are calling for the return of high-powered machine guns to the force, after the recent escalation in gangland violence in the capital.

The president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Dermot O'Brien said more resources were desperately needed to deal with criminal activity. This should include arming district detective units with Uzi sub-machine guns, he added.

Mr O'Brien said the move would act as a "deterrent" when gardai were confronting dangerous criminals.

"When the criminal fraternity are aware of the fact that the gardai are armed at these checkpoints, with these type of weapons, it deters them.

"That's what's required out there to protect our members and also the public."

The Kinahan gang is embroiled in a violent tit-for-tat feud, which has seen criminal David Byrne and Eddie Hutch, the brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, murdered in recent weeks.

Christy Kinahan, from St Teresa's Gardens in Dublin's south inner city, is now the leading figure in the Irish drug trade.

The 59-year-old was released from Portlaoise prison after a lengthy sentence for drugs and fraud in 2001.

He spent his time in jail completing a university degree and taking language and legal courses, in order to improve his ability to run an international business.

It is understood that he learnt Spanish and Dutch in jail, languages in which he is now fluent.

Christy Kinahan relocated to southern Spain a short time later.

He spends most of his time in his €6m luxury villa in the resort of Estepona.

Daniel and Christopher Jnr are the heirs to their father's throne and look after the day-to-day running of the enormous drugs, weapons, and international money-laundering operation.

The Kinahans are believed to be responsible for up to 90pc of all drugs that are sold in Ireland and act as wholesalers for dangerous gangs all over the country.

The cartel has dozens of criminals working for it, including some of Ireland's most notorious criminals.

On the Costa, it is becoming equal in power to Russian and Colombian cartels based there.

'Open Warfare: Ireland's Gangland Feud - An Insight Special' will broadcast tomorrow night, at 9pm, exclusively on UTV Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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