Wednesday 28 September 2016

Revealed: Kinahan using drug mules like Michaella to move cocaine from Peru

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

Michaella McCollum
Michaella McCollum
Christy Kinahan

Crime boss Christy Kinahan's links to the world's most dangerous drugs gangs in South America can be revealed today.

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Kinahan's drugs empire is built on massive shipments of cocaine being smuggled from Peru across the Atlantic by naïve drugs mules.

It has emerged that the Irish cartel is directly working with Mexico's deadly Sinaloa Cartel - which controls the drugs trade in Peru, where Michaella McCollum was caught trying to smuggle almost €2m of cocaine.

Former Peruvian anti-narcotics chief, Ricardo Soberón, said "without question" Kinahan is working with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Headed up by infamous 'Narco' Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who has escaped prison twice, the gang has been linked to tens of thousands of murders.

Mexican gangs have taken control of the lucrative cocaine trade since the fall of the Colombian Cartels in the 1990s and are now said to head the racket which is worth €43bn a year.

"The Mexicans, mainly the Sinaloas, now control the export market in Peru," said Mr Soberón.

"With the number [of drugs mules] rising to Spain and Holland there must be links to this guy [Kinahan].

"If his enterprise is as big as is believed, there can be no other way," he added.

Murders by the Sinaloa cartel often involve beheadings - with victims' heads impaled on spikes across the country as warnings to rivals and police informants.

The gang is also known for its use of acid for dissolving bodies.

In some cases, the bloody executions are filmed and posted on the internet as a warning to rival gangs.

The revelation comes as an EU report this week published findings directly connecting Irish criminals to South and Central American gangs.

Compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, the report found that Irish criminal gangs have connections with drug cartels in South and Central America which facilitate the direct importation of cocaine into Ireland and Europe.

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, from Lenzie, near Glasgow in Scotland, were caught with 11kg (24lb) of cocaine in their luggage at Lima airport in August 2013.

They were trying to board a flight to Madrid in Spain.

Official statistics from Peruvian authorities show that the number of drug mules intercepted leaving the country has risen exponentially since 2007.

One of Peru's top serving anti-narcotic police officers, who cannot be identified, said that the number of drug mules leaving the country, bound for various locations in Spain and the Netherlands is worrying.

"It can only be linked with this criminal's (Kinahan's) rise to prominence and such a massive increase in demand from Europe, Russian and Australia," he said.

"Between 2008 and 2013, 612 people were caught en route to Spain in Lima airport. In the same time, 248 people were picked up going to Holland.

"Another 284 were caught going to Brazil, which is an important point of connection for Europe. Between 2008 and 2009 alone, the amount of cocaine seized at the airport jumped from 1.5 tonnes to over two tonnes."

Another police source said that mob boss Kinahan has also been linked with Peru's answer to 'Tony Montana', Gerald Oropeza Lopez.

"Kinahan is on the radar here for us; we think he has close ties with the Ndrangheta Mafia from southern Italy through a Peruvian guy called Gerald Oropeza Lopez (currently jailed in Equador).

"The Italians and Lopez, with help from Mexicans, ship billions of dollars' worth of cocaine out of the port of Callao every month.

"Since security ramped up at the port they have been shipping it from labs in the desert. If you ever fly over Peru you will see lots of big sheds in the desert.

"They are chicken farms that produce more than eggs. What is happenings now is the cocaine is made here and aken by small boats to bigger boats that are waiting 10 miles off shore."

Irish Independent

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