US joins fight against Irish cartel as rewards of €15m offered

Kinahans ranked among top target of American law enforcement agencies

The leadership of the Kinahan cartel has been officially ranked among a top tier of US law enforcement targets that includes the Italian, Russian and Mexican mafias.

As part of a new international law enforcement campaign against the cartel unveiled in Dublin on Tuesday, rewards of up to $15 million have been offered to anyone who can supply information leading to their arrest and conviction of Christy Kinahan snr and his sons Daniel and Christopher jnr, who lead a €1 billion criminal empire.

However, The Irish Times understands law enforcement in the United Arab Emirates, where the Kinahans live, has not co-operated with the Irish authorities and no extradition arrangement exists between the two countries.

A reward of $5 million for the capture of each of the three Kinahans was announced by US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin in Dublin on Tuesday.

The Kinahan cartel had been accused of crimes such as murder and drugs and gun trafficking, she said, adding that the fight against international organised crime was a top priority for US president Joe Biden.

‘Can’t hide forever’

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said while the cartel's leadership was based in Dubai, pursuit of the Kinahans was now a unified international effort and would succeed.

The commissioner said the US sanctions imposed on those at the “apex” of the cartel would ensure Christy Kinahan snr and his sons would “run low on money and friends”.

He said they “can’t hide from justice forever”, adding the sanctions represented the “first phase” and would be potentially “crippling” for them.

Daniel Kinahan has continued to have commercial interests in professional boxing and has claimed to put in place some of the biggest fights in history.

The commissioner urged top boxers and those who were fans of the sport to consider if they wanted Kinahan associated with it.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who has spearheaded the fight against the cartel’s Irish operation, said Daniel Kinahan’s advance to the top echelons of boxing had acted as motivation to international law enforcement.

Asked by The Irish Times if the cartel had now grown too large and powerful, over two decades of expansion, for its leading figures to be caught, Ms McEntee insisted the US, British and other law enforcement agencies were now behind the Irish effort and it would prevail.

The commissioner and Ms McEntee were speaking at an event in City Hall, Dublin, on Tuesday, at which members of the international law enforcement community unveiled a new drive against the cartel, which has been in the planning stages for three years. It is based on the work of the Garda and with the most severe sanctions coming from the Americans.

Transnational

Associate director of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, Gregory Gatjanis, said US law enforcement ranked the Kinahans alongside some of the most wanted international criminals in the world and, as a result, a $5 million reward was being offered to anyone who could help secure the conviction of the father and sons.

“As of today, the Kinahan transnational organisation joins the likes of Italy’s Camorra, Mexico’s Los Zetas, Japan’s Yakuza and Russia’s Izmaylovskaya,” he said.

The measures unveiled include the “designation” of the three Kinahans and four of their associates by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. That “designation” of people and companies is aimed at “blocking property of transnational crime organisations”.

It means all property or interests related to the three Kinahans, their four named associates and three named companies must be reported to the US authorities for blocking and freezing. As a result, the Kinahans are shut out of the US banking system and cannot trade with people or companies in the US. They also cannot travel on US airlines.

The four Kinahan associates also sanctioned are Irish: Sean McGovern (36); Ian Thomas Dixon (32); Bernard Patrick Clancy (44); and John "Johnny" Morrissey (62).

The companies sanctioned are: UK-based Nero Drinks Company Ltd, which sells luxury alcoholic drinks and which Morrissey controls and Daniel Kinahan partly owns; UAE-based Hoopoe Sports, which Dixon runs and which manages boxers and agrees deals, including broadcasting, in sports; Dubai-based company Ducashew Trading LLC, which is a business consultancy company, offering support and mentorship to companies and which is run by Daniel Kinahan.

Deputy director of investigations at the UK's National Crime Agency, Matt Horne, said the Kinahan cartel had "transcended international boundaries" to distributed cocaine and heroin in Ireland, the UK and across Europe.

“The crime group has the wealth and resources to frustrate law enforcement efforts using corruption and they have received training in anti-surveillance and intelligence techniques,” he said. “This has enhanced their ability to stay under the radar. They have also sought to locate themselves outside of Ireland and the UK to frustrate our efforts.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

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