Police forces coming together very bad news for Kinahans

Sight of Spanish boots on the ground in Dublin and gardaí in Marbella unprecedented

A man “known to gardaí” has been arrested in Spain in connection with the murder of Gary Hutch on the Costa del Sol in September last year. The arrest is part of a joint Garda operation with Spain’s La Guardia Civil which has seen searches carried out in Dublin and Spain targeting gangland criminals. Video: La Guardia Civil

 

Clearly under pressure after a period of sustained gun violence on the streets of Ireland, spilling over in Spain, police officers from both jurisdictions were out in force yesterday.

But unlike the co-ordinated raids against the Kinahan drugs gang witnessed on Irish and Spanish soil in recent years, this time Garda members were visible on the ground in Spain.

And members of the Guardia Civil were involved in searches in Dublin.

The development was unprecedented for an organised crime inquiry.

During the summer months, Ireland sent eight Garda members to France for the European Championships after the French police requested all participating nations send personnel to aid the security operation on the ground.

Those foreign police officers who travelled to the soccer tournament from around Europe did so to aid their French colleagues in identifying troublemakers and, to a lesser extent, terrorist suspects.

While they wore clothing identifying them as members of their country’s police force, they did not dress in full uniform and had no police powers while in France; acting in a strictly observational capacity.

The Garda members currently in Spain and officers from the Guardia Civil in the Republic participated in yesterday’s gangland raids in a similar capacity.

Garda headquarters and the Department of Justice were clearly keen to milk publicity from the operation.

Photographs

A number of photographs were also issued of members of the force at the arrest yesterday in Spain of the suspect for the murder of Gary Hutch near Marbella 12 months ago.

A vehicle and speed boat linked to the man were also pictured. A video of the Spanish police searching a gym and other properties linked to the Kinahans in Spain – with sniffer dogs and using cutting equipment to open a safe – was also released.

And Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald issued a statement welcoming the operation and implying it arose from her meeting Spanish minister for the interior Jorge Fernández Díaz earlier this year,

The publicity surrounding yesterday’s events was clearly coveted by all involved after nine gun murders linked to the Kinahan gang in the last year – seven in Ireland and two in Spain.

However, the presence of Spanish police boots on Irish soil and of Garda members in Spain represents an acknowledgment that such co-operation is required and that the public needs to see it.

This, especially if it were repeated, is a very welcome development.

The ability of the Kinahan gang to grow as big and wealthy as it has over the last 15 years – with a huge spread of property assets in Europe, the Middle East and Brazil – has added to its reputation as untouchable.

Victims

Once gangs earn a reputation for being a wealthy and murderous machine with a useful habit of staying ahead of the law, they tend to crush rivals at will and emerge as a challenge to state security and a threat to public harmony.

Christy Kinahan’s cartel is at the top of the pile in that regard and is the biggest such entity in the history of Irish organised crime.

He has built his wealth in Spain since the early 2000s by supplying Irish and British drugs gangs.

He was not a top priority in the Republic because he was offshore and there were many smaller gangs at home feuding and killing each other.

And because the Spanish police also had their own home-grown gangs and even bigger international mafia groups to contend with, the Kinahan gang mostly avoided the full brunt of police attention there.

Confirmation the two police forces are coming together and feel under sufficient political and public pressure to, literally, broadcast their co-operation is very bad news for Kinahan’s gang.

After stupidly breaking cover to so blatantly target the Hutch family for most of last year, it appears Spain no longer regards the gang as a problem for the Irish and that the Garda no longer regards it as a problem for the Spanish.