Sunday 22 April 2018

Garda crackdown on crime has cost Kinahan gang millions as big hitters face criminal charges

Daniel Kinahan and the cash seized
Daniel Kinahan and the cash seized

Ken Foy

The Kinahan cartel’s ongoing crisis has cost the organisation millions in cash, drugs and caches of high-powered weapons and has seen more than 30 associates charged with serious crimes.

Gardai have landed a series of major blows to Daniel Kinahan’s operation, including:

  • The recovery of 40 firearms, including an assault rifle and a sub-machine gun, from the international crime gang in Ireland.
  • The seizure of €55m worth of drugs during dozens of raids since February of last year.
  • The arrest of more than 30 senior Kinahan gangsters, as well as lower-rung men and women, some of whom have been charged with crimes ranging from murder to money laundering.
  • The seizure of €4m in cash.

The cartel has seen the profits of its enterprise wiped out in at least 10 separate raids, in which significant piles of cash were seized – the most recent earlier this month, when almost €830,000 in notes was found.

A wide range of charges have been brought in court cases related to murder investigations, drug seizures, money laundering offences and the recovery of firearms.

Some of the cartel’s main enforcers are currently before the courts here, while another thug, James Quinn (34), is locked up in a Spanish jail as authorities investigate his alleged role in the murder of Gary Hutch.

Other suspected gunmen are before the non-jury Special Criminal Court, including Jonathan Keogh, who is being investigated for his alleged involvement in the murder of Gareth Hutch (35) in May last year.

Eleven people are still before the courts in relation to murders and foiled murders.

Last month, senior investigators stated that around 30 lives had been saved as a result of Garda operations and interventions since the Hutch/ Kinahan feud erupted.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who oversees units including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), said there were cases where there had been “definite intent to kill”.

Mr O’Driscoll also alluded to the fact that the number of arrests of Kinahan hitmen had affected the cartel’s ability to order gangland killings.

“There are a limited number of people, one would expect, who are prepared to murder in this city at any time. What is their capacity to do that without these people who are arrested as suspects?” he said.

“The impact of the interventions and the impact of the seizing of firearms is undoubtedly significant.”

A number of suspected fixers and bagmen have also been charged with firearm and finance-related offences, seriously hampering the cartel’s money laundering.

This month, gardai uncovered a ploy used by the gang in which articulated lorries are used to transport cash to the continent via ferries.

A truck driver from Co Sligo was arrested after gardai kept watch on a cash transaction with an alleged cartel bagman.

The 44-year-old driver arrived at the drop-off point in Naas, Co Kildare, in a lorry, and gardai suspect he was ordered to drive directly to an Irish port before travelling to Europe.

Specialist gardai, known as asset profilers, have also uncovered dozens of businesses and companies used for laundering cash.

Extensive examinations have revealed that almost a dozen car showrooms and dealerships are used as fronts for the cartel’s drug trafficking trade.

Other companies, including children’s entertainment stores, car wash services and haulage companies, have been identified as businesses that launder money for the cartel.

Associates who previously managed to operate under the Garda radar are now under pressure, including a criminal dubbed Mr Nobody, who was one of the cartel’s most important fixers before being busted.

“Men like ‘Mr Nobody’ operated freely and in the background for so long, but the feud placed the spotlight on the cartel,” a source said.

“People who were once too careful to be directly involved in gang operations are now forced to place themselves at risk of being apprehended as they feel the people on the lower rung are inadequate.”

Since the Regency Hotel attack in February last year, when cartel associate David Byrne (33) was shot dead, local and national Garda units have seized at least €55m worth of drugs from the international crime gang.

The most significant of these seizures came last January, when €37.5m worth of cannabis herb was seized at Dublin Port.

The consignment, which had been hidden in boxes labelled “mechanical tractor parts”, was placed under surveillance for almost a week in the hope that those in control of the shipment could be caught red-handed.

However, several days later, a decision was made to seize the drugs, and no arrests have yet been made. Gardai are satisfied that the shipment was organised and controlled by the Kinahan cartel.

Several months later, another huge drugs bust was made by the DOCB, when €4m worth of drugs were seized in the capital.

A relative of one of the cartel’s most senior associates was arrested in relation to this seizure, with gardai satisfied that the drugs belonged to the cartel.

Gardai have also had continued success in seizing firearms from a gang that is suspected of ordering more than 20 murders over the past decade.

At least 40 firearms which are directly linked to raids on the cartel’s Irish enterprise have been seized in the past 18 months, a number of which were loaded and in the process of being taken to the site of hits.

One of the major successes against the cartel also came in January, when gardai raided a warehouse they suspected was being used as an arms lock-up.

At least 15 firearms, including an assault rifle, semi-automatic pistols and a sub-machine gun,  were discovered.

Follow-up searches linked to the raid led to the seizure of €500,000 in cash and from bank accounts, while the following day, an assault rifle was also seized.

It was one of a number of raids carried out by the DOCB, who, only weeks before, recovered five firearms that gardai believe were intended for an imminent hit.

Gardai have also recovered at least seven firearms they suspect were used in feud-related murders or shootings, including two handguns seized after a botched attempt on the life of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch’s brother, John Hutch (61).

A gunman tried to murder Hutch as he arrived at his home in Drumalee Avenue, but the bungling shooter failed to hit him.

CCTV images of the attack show the masked man dropping one of his two firearms as he approaches Hutch and fires a number of shots.

These two weapons were later recovered.

Online Editors

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