Over €1m worth of property seized and panic room discovered as CAB hits Kinahan
Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30
A purpose built panic room was discovered in the luxury home of a convicted criminal during a series of raids targeting suspected associates of the Kinahan drug cartel, it has emerged.
Gardai said a large amount of money had been spent on renovating some of the houses searched, which had been fitted with items ranging from jacuzzis to high-end TVs.
Substantial investments were also made in security measures, including bullet proof windows, heavily reinforced doors and CCTV systems.
However, gardai were stunned to discover convicted criminal Liam Byrne had a panic room designed to escape an attack by would-be assassins in his Crumlin home.
His brother David Byrne was shot dead in the Regency Hotel by a rival gang as part of a bloody feud with the Hutch family last month. The shooting sparked off a retaliatory strike, which claimed the life of taxi driver Eddie Hutch, who was not regarded as being a member of the rival outfit but was singled out because of family connections.
Sources told the Irish Independent the security work was done some time ago, suggesting that Byrne had been concerned about becoming a gangland target long before the feud broke out with the Hutch clan.
“He (Byrne) was clearly planning ahead when he re-built the house because he had a purpose-built panic room of the type recommended to potential kidnap targets by the security industry,” said a source.
“The doors and windows can withstand even a small bomb which means he could buy himself time to get his family into the safety of the panic room.”
The property also boasted a steam room and a bar which was fully stocked with champagne, a source said.
Members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were forced to swap the breeching equipment they normally use in forced entries for angle grinders to break through the door yesterday morning.
Detectives said the home in Raleigh Square had been turned into a fortress, with a front door designed to withstand the blast from a small bomb.
Gardai dealt a severe financial blow to the Irish-based associates of the global drug trafficking cartel, led by Dubliner Christy Kinahan.
The homes of several suspected key associates were among a series of premises searched in dawn raids in the capital.
Almost 30 top of the range cars, six motorcycles, jewellery and expensive Rolex watches – with a total property value estimated to be well in excess of €1m – were seized, as well as €100,000 in cash.
A betting slip for a bet of €38,000 for tonight’s Liverpool V Manchester football match was also found. The odds on this slip were 7/4.
The operation, co-ordinated by officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), focused mainly on houses close to the home of David Byrne.
Ten out of the 11 houses raided were in an extended south city area stretching out from Raleigh Square in Crumlin, while the other home, which was linked to a pub, was located in the north inner city.
Six professional offices used by solicitors and accountants, who were not suspected of being involved in any crime, but were believed to be facilitating some of the targeted figures with property transactions, were also searched.
Another raid was on a car dealership in the south-west of the city.
Gardai seized 29 luxury cars, most of them from the yard of the car dealership, with others located at the homes of some of the suspects, or else found in car parks close to the houses. The seized cars included high-spec Mercedes, BMW, Golf GTI, Lexus and Landcruiser models and two motorcycles, each worth in excess of €30,000.
The prime targets of the raids are suspected associates of the Kinahan cartel, who live mainly in Dublin, although they make regular trips to Spain and the Netherlands.
The raids involved figures closely connected to Byrne and others linked regularly to the Kinahan family in the past.
Many of them are suspected of having money invested in property overseas, mainly in Spain and the Netherlands.
Some of the targets had been abroad in recent days but had returned home prior to the raids. Also seized were computers, files and documentation relating to the property transactions under investigation by the CAB, led by Det Chief Supt Eugene Corcoran. The searches represented the latest phase of a CAB probe that began almost two years ago into suspected members of Kinahan’s gang.
The inquiries are expected to continue for several months as bureau officers pursue leads expected to emerge from an analysis of yesterday’s seizures.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne, who is in charge of the force’s national support services, said all of the information seized would now be collated and analysed.
After the analysis has been completed, the CAB will then single out any property they suspect to have been acquired through illegal means and then seek to seize it permanently in the courts through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
More than 60 gardai were involved in the raids including members of the ERU, the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, Special Branch, officers from Dublin South and North Central divisions, the Technical Bureau as well as Revenue officers.