Sunday 23 October 2016

Close co-operation with Spain's police is part of Garda strategy for 'inevitable' demise of gangs

Published 19/08/2016 | 02:30

Christy Kinahan
Christy Kinahan

Co-operation between the Gardaí and the Spanish police has become more streamlined in recent months as contacts have increased in a bid to cope with the escalating campaign of the Kinahan international drugs cartel to eliminate anybody they deem to be connected to the rival Hutch clan.

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Face-to-face meetings are now taking place more regularly as senior officers review strategies to curb the spiral of killings.

Under an initiative, spearheaded by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony, head of the force's crime and security section, several discussions have taken place both here and in Spain.

The aim is to restore the close relationship that existed between the two forces during Operation Shovel, which was aimed at the outfit led by Christy Kinahan.

Shovel failed to lead to criminal charges against the suspected top members of the Kinahan organisation. But it did result in the seizures of millions of euro worth of drugs and the confiscation of a large property portfolio.

Assistant Commissioner O'Mahony has described the garda relationship with the Spanish as excellent, particularly in the Costa del Sol, where several leading Irish criminals have been based in recent years.

He has also pointed out that officers attached to the liaison section, also under his control at Garda headquarters, are keeping in constant communication with their counterparts.

Wednesday evening's slaying of an innocent Irish holidaymaker, Trevor O'Neill (42), in Majorca has highlighted the fears that the feud would once again spill overseas.

Kinahan's faction has been blamed for seven of the eight murders linked to the feud since September when the 'war' erupted after the shooting of Gary Hutch in Spain.

Also as a result of those murders, Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne has been given the resources to strengthen the specialist units under his control.

A new organised crime task force, which includes a beefing up of the Criminal Assets Bureau, has been put into operation.

Members of the task force, which includes an inspector, seven sergeants and 30 gardaí, alongside an additional sergeant and six gardaí for the bureau, have been selected and prepared for their new roles, which include clamping down on the middle layer of criminals in the gangs.

A new armed support unit for Dublin is expected to be up and running before the end of the year, with the selection process already well under way.

Much of the good work achieved by the Gardaí since the murder of David Byrne at the Regency hotel last February - including the prevention of five other gangland assassinations - has been the result of increased intelligence and saturation surveillance.

And gardaí are determined that their efforts will ultimately lead to those who are responsible for the violence being brought to justice.

According to Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, no criminal gang has stood the test of time.

"Eventually, their members, both at high and low levels, are arrested and their empire falls apart," he said recently, adding: "Nobody is invincible."

The death toll from this particular feud, with the victims including innocent bystanders, make it imperative that success in the current policing investigation is achieved sooner rather than later.

Irish Independent

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