Kinahans beginning to feel financial pain of Hutch feud
Gardaí strike rich vein in latest raid and believe they have arrested senior gang figure
The arms find at Greenogue Industrial Estate in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, on Monday. Photograph: Padraig O’Reilly
Gang leaders Gerry Hutch (the Monk) and Christy Kinahan.
What started out as one of the strongest Garda blows landed square on the chin of the Kinahan gang for over a decade has turned into the proverbial Aladdin’s Cave.
Not only have detectives on the tail of the most powerful gang in the history of Irish organised crime seized an arsenal of weapons, they also believe they have uncovered the secret hub around which the gang’s Irish operation has been revolving of late.
And with the successful seizures, some very exotic fish have been landed.
The detention of one of four suspects in particular, gardaí think, represents Irish law enforcement reaching into the body of the gang and extracting an organ. Whether it’s a vital one remains to be seen.
The suspect is in his 50s and originally from west Dublin, although has been living in Co Kildare. Aside from some minor road indiscretions on his record, he has no criminal convictions. A mild- mannered, well travelled family man, gardaí believe he is gang leader Christy Kinahan’s eyes and ears in Dublin.
The investigation of his background and recent activities suggest he has travelled extensively to continental Europe and the Middle East, and gardaí believe he has been meeting Kinahan in at least some of those places.
A search of his Co Kildare house has yielded approximately €300,000 hidden in vacuum-packed parcels in the attic. Gardaí believe the money is the proceeds of drug sales.
And they are also convinced the suspect has been running the Co Dublin warehouse raided by detectives on Tuesday.
This latest operation, coupled with a number of similar raids on Kinahan gang members in Ireland in the last 10 months, is starting to resemble Operation Oak in 2006. It was a huge Garda drive against gang leader Martin Hyland, who ran a major robbery and drugs outfit based in Finglas, north Dublin.
Operation Oak resulted in the activities of the Hyland gang being interrupted so significantly and regularly that the cartel imploded. Hyland was shot dead by his own associates in an effort to calm the interest of the Garda and media.
The heat is being turned up on Kinahan in the same way; albeit on a much larger scale.
A car garage was also searched and 28 luxury vehicles confiscated by Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab). Also seized by the Garda were dune buggies, racing motorcycles, an expensive engagement ring, 10 luxury watches, about €100,000 in cash and a €38,000 betting slip.
A new Garda taskforce has been established to meet the challenge of the Kinahan gang head-on, an armed response unit has been established for Dublin resulting directly from the Kinahan-Hutch feud, and several multimillion drug seizures have been made at the Kinahan gang’s expense.
Vehicles linked to the gang and with high-powered loaded firearms inside have been discovered twice by the Garda in recent months.
And several Kinahan gang members in Ireland are before the courts charged with serious crimes, up to and including murder.
While the events of recent days look bigger than any of those successes since March, the investigation of the Kinahan gang, both in the Republic and Spain, has seen false dawns before.
The international Operation Shovel in May 2010, resulted in arrests in Ireland and Spain, which included the detention of senior figures. The sight of them being hauled out of palatial villas near Marbella in their underpants suggested the game was up. But so far, almost seven years later, nobody has been charged, and most of the investigation has been closed down in Spain.
In that context, claims the man now being held in a west Dublin Garda station – along with three other suspects – is such a key figure for Kinahan in Ireland will be greeted with caution.
However, the detail of what the Garda has unearthed over the last couple of days does suggest this is the pointy end of the gang. And if the middle-aged suspect with no criminal record was running the warehouse, as gardaí believe, then his arrest is very big news.
Either way, this week’s operation is the latest in a series of strikes that is genuinely beating up the Kinahan gang.
Other firearms and cash were vacuum packed. Gardaí arrested the man believed to be the gang’s Irish manager on the premises, and two other suspects were detained in a vehicle nearby.
Another man, bringing to four the number of arrests to date, was held in a follow-up operation early Wednesday.
The guns found on Tuesday include nine revolvers, four semi-automatic pistols, a submachine gun and an assault rifle. About 1,300 rounds of ammunition and cash was also found at the warehouse.
A number of other residential properties linked to the arrested men have since been searched in Dublin and Co Kildare. It was in one of those houses – where the so-called gang manager resides – that approximately €300,000 was found in the attic in vacuum-packed bags. Gardaí believe it had been packed in the warehouse and taken to the man’s home because he was not on the Garda’s radar.
Sums of cash
In total about €400,000 in cash and a six-figure sum on deposit has been seized.
The activity and spectacular yield comes just days after a joint Revenue and Garda operation resulted in 1.8 tonnes of herbal cannabis valued at €37 million – and believed to have come from the Kinahan gang – was discovered at Dublin Port.
It appears while the Kinahan gang may have proven savagely efficient at gunning down members of the Hutch faction, and some innocent bystanders, the heat that killing spree has generated is now burning Kinahan’s operation.
Christy Kinahan and his two sons – Christopher and Daniel – remain free men against whom no charges have been brought.
But their feud with the Hutches looks like it might be bringing them down.