Drugs agency chief warns of continuing threat from Kinahans

Warning comes after news of Daniel Kinahan’s role in organising major boxing match

The Kinahan organised crime group continues to be one of the biggest threats to law and order in Ireland, according to the head of the European anti-drugs smuggling agency.

Michael O'Sullivan, who until 2017 was a Garda assistant commissioner, heads up the Lisbon-based Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Maoc). In recent years Maoc has led operations seizing cocaine worth several billion euro coming in on ships from South America. It is believed much of this was destined for the Kinahan gang.

Mr O'Sullivan was speaking following the news that the gang's leader, Daniel Kinahan, has helped broker a much-anticipated boxing match between heavyweights Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

News of the bout has angered several Government Ministers and has shone an international spotlight on Kinahan’s deep links to organised crime and the Dublin gang feud which has resulted in 18 deaths.

Criminal connections

On Friday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said sports and media organisations should have nothing to do with a boxing match involving Kinahan. He said the Government has been in touch with officials in the United Arab Emirates, where Kinahan lives, to inform them of his criminal connections.

Mr O’Sullivan said the Kinahan gang “is one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, organised group affecting Ireland”.

“You can see that from their track record. They are a very serious organised crime group at both a national level and an international level,” he told The Irish Times.

“That absolutely continues to this day . . . This is a multi-million euro organisation. They’re not going to stop business and just give up. This is just another facet to it.”

“These people don’t go away, they get put away,” he added.

Mr O'Sullivan was echoing the view of several senior gardaí who have given evidence recently about the Kinahan gang's involvement in murder, drugs and arms smuggling on a global scale. In 2018 a High Court judge stated Daniel, who has no previous convictions, and his brother Christy Kinahan jnr control the day to day operations of the gang.

In the face of growing outrage, several prominent figures in the boxing world defended Kinahan on Friday.

Current WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders accused Ireland of being "jealous" of the Dublin man's success. Kinahan acts as an adviser to Fury and Saunders.


“I would hate to live in that country, it’s so corrupt – it’s a joke, anything happens and it’s Daniel Kinahan, leave the man alone, he’s getting on with business,” Saunders said in an interview, referring to Ireland.

“I think he’s too big for Ireland, Ireland should appreciate him for that small country they’ve got.”

Promoter Bob Arum, who has worked with figures such as Muhammad Ali and who is heavily involved in the Tyson-Joshua bout, said he judges Kinahan only on his interactions in boxing and that he knows nothing about Kinahan's past.

“If anybody asks me, I would say without any question, that I find him to be an honourable man,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The most likely broadcasters to show the fight, Sky and BT, both said they are not involved in the negotiations and that any fight deal would be carefully scrutinised.