Dublin criminal Liam Byrne, who was named in the Dublin High Court as a “trusted lieutenant of Daniel Kinahan and the Kinahan organised crime group”, plans to fight efforts to extradite him from Spain.
He has appeared before the courts in Spain following his arrest in Mallorca at the weekend, and has indicated he is not consenting to his extradition to the UK for trial.
The former leader of the “Byrne organised crime group”, which ran the Kinahan cartel’s Irish operation for years, he was arrested in a restaurant in Alcúdia on Sunday evening at the request of the National Crime Agency (NCA) in Britain. The agency investigated Byrne for his alleged leading role in a crime group sourcing firearms for sale to other crime gangs and has secured permission to charge the Dubliner with serious firearms offences.
However, Byrne left Britain as the investigation into him was nearing a conclusion and has been living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has no extradition treaty with Britain or with the EU. On May 26th Byrne flew from Dubai to Mallorca for a “family reunion”, and after 10 days on the Spanish island he was located and arrested by the Spanish police.
He was taken into custody pending his extradition to the UK, and has now been remanded in custody following his declaration that he will contest being sent back to Britain for trial. It emerged on Tuesday he had appeared before an extradition judge on Monday. The hearing took place in private, as is normal in Spain.
It is understood Byrne appeared before a judge at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional court, which deals with extraditions, via video-link from Mallorca. Officials were not able to confirm he did not appear in person at the court in Madrid.
An official at the Audiencia Nacional said: “The Irish national arrested in Mallorca on Sunday was handed over to the courts [on Monday]. He was provisionally remanded in prison. He is not agreeing to be extradited.”
Byrne’s decision to fight extradition means a separate hearing will now take place where a defence lawyer will put forward reasons why he should not be made to return to the UK. It is expected to delay any extradition by several weeks if not months.
Another Irish man, Jack Kavanagh (22), was arrested in Málaga last Tuesday on a stopover as he travelled from Dubai to Turkey. His arrest also followed a request from the British authorities.
The NCA in Britain said “EncroChat messages showed they [Byrne and Kavanagh] were believed to be involved in the supply and acquisition of firearms” in the UK. EncroChat was a secretive and supposedly secure messaging system used by criminals until it closed in 2020 after being infiltrated by international law enforcement.
Kavanagh grew up in Tamworth in Britain in a Dublin family and is the son of Thomas “Bomber” Kavanagh, a man jailed for 21 years in Britain last year for his leading role in smuggling the Kinahans’ drugs into the UK. Thomas Kavanagh effectively ran the cartel’s UK operation while his brother-in-law, Liam Byrne, ran the Irish operation.
Byrne’s brother, David Byrne, was shot dead during the attack on the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, in 2016 which resulted in a significant escalation in the Kinahan-Hutch feud. In the years following that attack the cartel’s Irish operation was targeted in a Garda crackdown, with over 60 people linked to the gang jailed. Its leader, Liam Byrne, fled Ireland for Britain as the Criminal Assets Bureau began investigating him, an inquiry that resulted in the seizure of his home about four years ago.