Wednesday 23 October 2019

Gardai target social media accounts run by top-level criminals in Hutch-Kinahan feud

Detective reveals senior Kinahan and Hutch gang members are using social media to fuel feud
Detective reveals senior Kinahan and Hutch gang members are using social media to fuel feud

Ken Foy

Senior Kinahan and Hutch gang members are using social media to fuel their bloody feud, issuing threats and spreading rumours – truth and lies – about their enemies, a senior detective leading the fight against the gangs has revealed.

In an exclusive interview at the city centre headquarters of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) yesterday, Detective Superintendent Seamus Boland told Independent.ie that gardai were concerned about fake social media accounts.

“Some of these accounts are being run by organised crime at very high levels,” he said.

“We believe that people at the top level are involved in controlling these accounts.

“These accounts have been generally set up to put certain stories into the public domain.

“There is always a purpose to the story, whether it is to put out a threat to people or to counteract a threat or even to collect a debt.”

The force has used legislation to actively investigate a number of these accounts, said Mr Boland.

“But social media is a very difficult area to police,” he added. “In some cases we would be happy that these social media accounts have been controlled from very far away countries by very senior criminals in these organised crime groupings.”

Since the Hutch-Kinahan feud, which has claimed 18 lives, began three years ago, dozens of social media accounts controlled by both factions have emerged. Gardai believe many of them are controlled by the Kinahan cartel.

However, in June, Independent.ie revealed that officers were concerned someone could be murdered after official documents linked to cartel kingpin Daniel Kinahan were leaked to an individual who detectives believe is operating a social media site on behalf of the Hutch mob.

Images of Kinahan’s passport and his Dubai work permit, which sources said were believed to be genuine, were published on an anti-Kinahan Twitter account.

Mr Boland revealed members of the DOCB have visited around 20 countries as part of their probe into the Kinahan cartel.

Apart from many European states including the UK, the Netherlands and Spain, gardai have also visited far-flung destinations such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has worked with gardai in recent times.

“Our reach at the moment is global and this is one of our greatest weapons against these crime gangs,” said Mr Boland.

“Their activities had already attracted the attention of international law enforcement because of the level of unnecessary violence which they have used.”

Mr Boland, who has served as a garda for 28 years, believes the international dimension to the investigations is huge.

“You can’t confine yourself to what’s going on in Ireland. If you look at some of the recent major cash seizures, that was money that was being sent out of Ireland,” he said.

“Our level of capabilities and expertise is greatly enhanced by international co-operation.

“Apart from a relatively small amount of cannabis growhouses in Ireland, everything else has to be imported – all the firearms and all the drugs.

“So there’s a major international dimension to this.”

With such a focus on tackling the feuding gangs, particularly the Kinahan cartel, Mr Boland denied the massive investigation would enable other crime organisations the space to thrive here.

“I don’t think that’s a risk. The dynamic of the Irish crime scene is very interlinked, which means we have a greater understanding of sub-groups that are operating,” he said.

“These groups tend to have interaction with each other and we are monitoring them constantly.”

Speaking of the Regency Hotel bloodbath, Mr Boland admitted it was a “surprise” to gardai.

“There was no indication something like that would happen,” he said. “We didn’t know it was at the level it was and it focused a lot of minds, but after it we got additional resources such as the Special Crime Taskforce which has been a huge benefit to us in the DOCB.

“We have the capability, understanding, methods of investigation and international contacts to tackle these groups. We are in a much more powerful place now.”

Herald

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