Kinahan ally emerging as new leading figure in Irish gangland, gardaí believe

Cartel associate appears to be ‘stepping up’ to fill void left by dismantling of Byrne organised crime group

A Kinahan cartel member who has relocated back to Dublin has begun to emerge as a key figure in the criminal underworld following the Garda’s dismantling of the Christy Kinahan-founded “Byrne organised crime group” in the city.

Gardaí believe the man, a Dubliner in his 30s, is now in a prime position to take on a dominant role in the drugs trade after a period of unprecedented flux in Irish gangland over the past four or five years. He appears to be taking advantage of the transitionary phase in the Dublin underworld since members of the Byrne organised crime group were either jailed or fled abroad during the Garda response to the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Senior Garda sources said they were surprised there had not been more gun feuding in the city by rival gangs seeking to “step up” and take advantage of the pressure being imposed on the Dubai-based Kinahan cartel leaders and the dismantling of its Irish franchise, the Byrne organised crime group. While a gun feud has now broken out in Finglas, north Dublin, that is regarded as a localised dispute following a split in the biggest drugs gang in the suburb.

However, the man who has lived for periods in both Spain and Dubai has now re-established himself in Dublin. He was arrested in Spain on gun charges in his 20s and was also targeted in Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) raids, across several counties, four years ago. He remains under investigation by the Cab and has amassed considerable wealth, in property and company ownership, from his long-standing involvement with the Kinahans.

Gardaí believe he is trying to fill the vacancy created in the senior ranks of the Irish drugs trade created by Liam Byrne fleeing for the UK over a year ago. If he is successful, it would mean the Kinahan cartel had re-installed one of its trusted allies, around who it could re-establish a group in Dublin to run its drugs trafficking in the Republic as the Byrne group did for years.

However, gardaí still believe a fresh round of feuding in the capital is possible between rival gangs trying to take control of the drugs trade during the current period of weakness for the Kinahan cartel.

Similarly, sources said the cartel also had the resources to attack its rivals and seek to protect its territory in Ireland. The same gardaí said a renewed campaign of gun violence in the country directed by the Kinahans was still possible despite the US and UAE imposing financial sanctions on them last month. Under those sanctions, cartel founder Christopher “Christy” Kinahan snr and his sons, Daniel and Christopher jnr, are banned from banking and from commercial activities in both countries. People in the US and UAE are also banned from having any business dealings with them and could be charged with crimes and jailed if they continue to deal with the three Kinahans and four of their associates also placed on a sanctions list.

The Byrne organised crime group was founded by Christy Kinahan before he relocated to Spain over 20 years ago. Leadership then passed to Freddie Thompson (41) who is currently in prison serving a life sentence for the Kinahan-Hutch feud murder of David “Daithi” Douglas in 2016.

While that group was run by Thompson, it became the Kinahan cartel’s Irish franchise and effectively ran the cartel’s drugs wholesale business in the Republic. When Thompson was forced to flee Dublin under threat from the INLA, leadership of the group passed to his first cousin Liam Byrne (41) from Crumlin. However, when Byrne was targeted in a major operation by the Cab, he fled Ireland. His absence from Dublin, along with so many of his associates being jailed in the Republic for crimes linked to the Kinahan-Hutch feud, mean the Byrne group has effectively been dismantled.