THE sanctions imposed on the Kinahan Transnational Crime Organization (KTCO) this week placed it in an exclusive club with Russian oligarchs, international terrorists and the Italian mafia.
The criminal group now has assets of over $1 billion.
It started decades ago as a local crime group in Dublin’s south inner city but soon grew and was considered the most powerful gang in Ireland by the late 1990s.
Founder Christy Kinahan Snr served prison sentences in Ireland and the Netherlands for drug trafficking and later in Belgium for money laundering offences.
He used his time in prison to establish contacts throughout Europe. He organized drug shipments worth millions of euros – as well as the shipment of firearms – to Ireland.
The elder Kinahan later relocated to Spain from where he ran his successful ‘business’ and escaped gardaí.
Another key area for the gang was the British Midlands, where Thomas “Bomber” Kavanagh established himself as a key player in the cartel.
Kinahan’s two sons, Daniel and Christy Jnr, also began to be actively involved in the criminal network.
until 2007, Daniel Kinahan especially more practical involvement in day-to-day business. He became a key target of Operation Shovel when Gardaí secured 1.5 tonnes of cannabis in Kildare.
The Garda Inquiry grew into a major international operation, later joined by police agencies from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, by agencies in the Middle East and South America. This culminated in a series of raids followed by arrests, both here and in the UK and Spain.
Christy Kinahan and his sons were among those arrested by Spanish police. Others arrested included “Fat” Freddie Thompson and Gary Hutch, whose assassination by the Kinahan gang sparked a deadly feud that has claimed 18 lives.
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A file discovered by Gardaí in 2011 showed that the Kinahan network sold shipments of drugs worth €1 million every two months.
How the gang laundered their money has also been revealed, with documents showing €2.5 million was laundered through unsuspecting bookies.
There was also evidence of 60 luxury properties owned by the cartel in Spain, worth around €150 million, as well as €500 million tourism developments in Brazil. Other properties and companies in Belgium, Cyprus and South Africa were also found.
Although around 30 people were arrested as part of Operation Shovel, the only charges in the investigation related to passport fraud.
In 2015, troubles within the cartel began to develop, and in September, Gary Hutch, a nephew of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, was shot dead in Spain.
It was later revealed that he had attempted to launder money from a “tiger kidnapping” involving the cartel, but those relationships soured.
In a February 2016 retaliatory attack, a five-man hit team stormed Dublin’s Regency Hotel during a boxing weigh-in.
During the gun attack, David Byrne, an associate of the cartel, was shot dead. Gardaí believe Daniel Kinahan was the intended target.
Also injured was Sean McGovern, now wanted by Gardaí to face murder and organized crime charges.
The gun attack was described as a “crucial time” for how gardaí would attack the Kinahan crime gang.
Deputy Commissioner John O’Driscoll said the extent of the cartel’s evolution from a group of Dublin criminals to a transnational gang had become apparent.
“This power was exercised through a campaign of assassination in Ireland and elsewhere, directed by the hierarchy of the group, which is believed to have settled in a place that is a long way from Ireland but also from Europe,” said he.
He estimates that through its operations on a global scale it has amassed assets of over €1 billion.
The Kinahan gang were also blamed for 16 of the 18 murders committed as part of the feud, including those of two innocent bystanders.
Over the past six years, investigators from the Garda National Drugs and Organized Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) have seized drugs worth €20 million, €7.5 million in cash and 48 firearms.
They have also intervened in 46 life-threatening situations and convicted 79 people of crimes directly related to the cartel.
However, while gardaí imprisoned low- and mid-level operators, those at the highest level evaded justice.
Police in the UK faced the same problem. UK National Crime Agency (NCA) Deputy Director Matt Horne said eight death threats or killings linked to the gang had been prevented on Britain’s streets.
But despite several successes, the leadership continued to evade capture and made utmost efforts to evade arrest, including the use of corruption and counter-surveillance.
In recent years the killings have stopped and Daniel Kinahan is attempting to present himself as a legitimate businessman.
He became an adviser to some of boxing’s top stars, brokering multi-million dollar bouts and even had a brief stint at a sports agency associated with the Bahrain Royal Family. Efforts to “sporty wash” his reputation appeared to be working as he reinvented himself from the far-flung Middle Eastern state of the United Arab Emirates.
Gardaí also believe he has separated from other members of the criminal gang, aside from his closest associates, to try to appear legitimate.
Despite living in the UAE – which has no extradition treaty with Ireland – Gardaí are confident that Kinahan and his key associates will be caught.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said they could “run but not hide” and that the Kinahan hierarchy would be brought to justice.
He said they started out as a south inner-city drug dealer but have grown into an international organization that has made up to €1 billion from crime.
Mr Harris said one of the first briefings he received when taking on the top Garda role was regarding the Kinahan gang.
The Garda boss added that the gang would be running out of money, friends and influence from now on.
The NCA’s Mr Horne also said financial sanctions imposed by the US would hamper the Kinahan gang, including freezing funds in their bank accounts.
All attempts to do business in the US will also be unsuccessful.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller warned members of the transnational crime gang that they were not welcome in the US and that they would deny entry to those trying to enter America.
The gang’s significant rise was summed up by Gregory Gatjanis, deputy director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
He said the cartel started on the streets of south inner Dublin – near where the joint Garda press conference was held at Dublin City Hall – but now its tentacles have spread around the world.
After the Biden administration imposed sanctions, the Kinahan cartel has joined an “exclusive” club of international crime gangs – the Italian Camorra, the Japanese Yakuza, the Mexican Los Zetas and the Russian Mafia Thieves in Law.
Russian oligarchs have also been hit with sanctions as part of the international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Kinahan cartel continues to transport millions of euros worth of drugs across Europe, but it is hoped that joint international cooperation – the brainchild of Garda Deputy Commissioner John O’Driscoll – will finally crush it.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/the-camorra-the-yakuza-and-now-the-kinahans-how-irish-gang-rose-to-world-notoriety-41547390.html Kinahan Gang Sanctioned: How the Irish crime gang rose to global fame