Tuesday 12 December 2017

Millions of euro linked to deadly gangland feud seized by gardaí

Flowers and balloons hanging next to the Regency Hotel in memory of David Byrne.
Flowers and balloons hanging next to the Regency Hotel in memory of David Byrne.

Ken Foy

In the year since the deadly Regency Hotel gun attack, gardaí have seized millions of euro linked to the Kinahan cartel and Hutch gang.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting that fuelled the feud that has so far claimed 11 lives.

Of the €2.2m in cash that gardaí have seized, and €3.8m frozen in bank accounts, the vast majority is connected to either the Kinahan or Hutch mobs.

The major operations launched by gardaí have revealed that at least a dozen Dublin car showrooms as well as children's entertainment businesses are used by the Kinahan cartel and their associates to launder the proceeds of crime.

National support services helped by dedicated local gardaí have increased their operations against the international crime syndicate since the gangland feud erupted last year. Since February 5, 2016, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has seized 97 high-powered vehicles on the suspicion that they were purchased with the proceeds of crime.

Read more: One year on, new bloodbath feared

Christy Kinahan
Christy Kinahan

Several of these vehicles have been seized from car garages in the capital, some of which are directly run by Kinahan cartel members.

They include LS Active Car Sales, which was directed by Liam Byrne (37), the brother of Regency Hotel murder victim David (33).

Another director - before the company dissolved - was Sean McGovern (34), who was wounded in the gun attack at the hotel.

Despite a number of significant raids on car garages as part of their investigations, gardaí believe that over a dozen Dublin-based businesses have links to the Kinahan cartel.

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch
Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch

Certain businesses being used as a front by the organised crime gang included several city centre pubs, beauty salons, photography stores and children's entertainment businesses.

A number of these have already been raided, with some dissolved, while others based in west and south Dublin are under active investigation by CAB and divisional asset profilers.

However, gardaí believe there are many more businesses currently operating under the radar which are used by the cartel.

Gardaí are also investigating incidents where family members and innocent associates of gangland criminals are being used by the cartel to launder their proceeds of crime.

Read more: Gardai seize more drugs in January than in all of 2016 as Kinahan crackdown continues

This includes a close female associate of Liam Byrne, who was arrested as part of a CAB investigation into the gang's finances.

Although this woman has no involvement in organised criminality, senior gardaí believe that she helps launder proceeds of crime through a legitimate business.

"This would be the case with several family members, friends and people close to gang members. These people would have clean records, and open up a legitimate business under pretence. [Then use it for] cleaning the money made from drug-dealing," a source said.

Some of the most high-profile raids against the cartel include March 10 last year when CAB, supported by local and national units including the Emergency Response Unit and Defence Force personnel, raided several homes, businesses and accountancy offices. More than €1m in assets was seized which included more than 30 high-powered cars and motorbikes.

Irish Independent

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