Kinahan cartel ‘overrated’ and needs to be ‘brought down’

Det Supt Seamus Boland says inquiry scoring successes against key targets

Christy Kinahan

Christy Kinahan: the Dubliner, who moved to Spain almost 20 years ago, has supplied Ireland with drugs through a decade of gun violence


The investigation into the international Kinahan crime cartel had been “the best training day” possible for members of the Garda, one of the key officers leading the inquiry has said.

Det Supt Seamus Boland of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau also told The Irish Times that while the main protagonists had been “over-rated” by the media, they needed to be “brought down”.

He said the drug dealers, who had been operating at the top of the Irish narcotics trade for close to two decades, would regret becoming mired in the Kinahan-Hutch feud because it would eventually topple them.

The violence has already claimed 11 lives; nine in Ireland and two in Spain.

Major investigation

“It creates new expertise; as one of my colleagues said recently, the last year was the greatest training day we’ve ever had,” he said of the major investigation into the Kinahan gang since the feud erupted.

“The expertise we have developed in investigating these gangs, cross-border and here [in Ireland] is going to stand to Irish society for years.”

Det Supt Boland could not comment on the current whereabouts of the Kinahans. However, it has been known for some time that An Garda Síochána has been working intensely with the Spanish police in recent years. Senior gardaí have also travelled to the United Arab Emirates to generate closer relations as the Kinahan gang has spent more time in Dubai of late.

“The legacy of the current feud is that it doesn’t matter where they go; where ever these people go, we will follow them, we will deal with them until matters are finalised,” Det Supt Boland said, though he would not specify any locations.

Asked if the major inquiry that has resulted from the feud would bring down the Kinahan gang, he said: “I have every confidence it will bring down the Kinahan gang and I don’t say that lightly.”

Det Supt Seamus Boland: said criminals will regret getting involved in the Kinahan-Hutch feud as it will eventually topple them. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Det Supt Seamus Boland: said criminals will regret getting involved in the Kinahan-Hutch feud as it will eventually topple them. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Having been a Garda member for 28 years and spent almost all of that time investigating organised crime while based at Dublin stations or in specialist units, Det Supt Boland said the inquiry was scoring successes against the key targets.

“You need to be arresting the right people; it’s a case of quality rather than quantity,” he said. “You need to understand that these gangs at this level work like a business structure. So you need to target the drug seizures and firearms. But we need to target the logistics; we are an island nation and [drugs] are imported. They need to be flown in or brought in by boat.”

A huge quantity of drugs entering the State was being smuggled via legitimate haulage and logistics companies; sometimes unbeknown to them. The international truck trade was being used and drugs or cash was being hidden in consignments shipped out as “groupage loads”; a space in a shipping container filled with goods or items for transport from several clients.

“Gangs at this level will take a period of time to be dealt with,” he said of those involved in the feud at present. “But in my 28 years in the guards, I’ve never seen as much want and will and resilience to go after them.”

Det Supt Boland added: “A lot of these people will think that a State or a police force will have a limit to the amount of attention they can give them and that it will all ease off. The legacy of this feud is that that is not going to be the case.

“These gangs haven’t just appeared overnight. These are people who are 20 years plus at the top of their game. So if the State is to be serious, we need to focus and ensure that we take them down from the very, very top.”

Decade of gun violence

Though he did not mentioned Christy Kinahan by name, the middle-aged Dubliner left Ireland almost 20 years ago and set up in Spain.

From there he has supplied the Irish market through a decade of gun violence from 2000 when feuds cost scores of lives in Crumlin-Drimnagh, Finglas, Coolock, Blanchardstown and Limerick.

Gun murders are at a lower level at present than at times in the previous decade, even allowing for the Kinahan-Hutch feud, though the Kinahan organisation continues to supply the Irish market.

However, Det Supt Boland believed the latest round of killings would be their downfall.

The media had ascribed a level of shrewdness and celebrity to some of the key gang members that international police forces the Garda was working with found hard to understand.

“We overrate all of them,” he said of Irish coverage of the key players. “They are not what they are portrayed in the media; they’re criminals.”

In the Limerick feud and also in the Crumlin-Drimnagh dispute, most of those involved had been killed or locked up in prison by the Garda, he noted.

The feuding of the last decade and the Kinahan-Hutch feud had been stoked by the drugs and funding supplied from offshore by Irish drugs dealers who had emigrated in the late 1990s.

Everyone involved in investigation of the Kinahan gang at present recognised that fact and relationships were being built with foreign police forces that would endure long after the current investigation.