Authorities in the United States are offering a reward of up to $15 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of three senior Kinahan cartel members, the US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin has revealed.
Irish, American and British law enforcement launched a major joint action against the Kinahan cartel in a bid to frustrate their criminal and financial international operations.
The action, which is unprecedented, has been accompanied by the most specific public release of information about cartel members, including their addresses and the numbers of their passports, both genuine and fake.
The Kinahans – Christy snr and his sons Daniel and Christopher jnr – were on Monday night named by the US Department of the Treasury as being at the apex of the criminal network, and sanctions have been put in place against them.
The reward being offered is $5 million for each source whose information leads to an arrest or conviction, meaning three people could separately collect $5 million for each of the three leading targets.
Speaking at a media conference in Dublin’s City Hall on Tuesday morning, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described the joint move by the Irish, US, British and European authorities as a crucial day.
The sanctions and the reward on offer for the conviction of the “apex of the organisation”, as well as travel restrictions being placed on them, was only “the first phase”, he said.
The authorities in Northern Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands and Spain were also working with the Irish authorities.
Mr Harris said the Kinahans would be brought to justice, that they would now run low on money and friends, adding: “To them I would say, you can run but you can’t hide from justice forever.”
The US sanction announced against the three Kinahans and some of their associates represented a “heavy blow if not a crippling blow” to the crime group, which had done so much damage in Ireland and internationally, he said.
It was now a trasnational group that had generated an estimated €1 billion while “leaving addiction and violence in their wake”.
Mr Harris said the Garda had systematically set out degrading and dismantling the gang’s Irish operation in the six years since the Regency Hotel attack in Dublin. However, the leadership of the group was located offshore in jurisdictions without an extradition treaty with Ireland.
Gregory Gatjanis, associate director of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, told the media event in Dublin the Kinahan cartel was now being prioritised by US law enforcement in the same way it pursued the Italian Camorra mafia group, the Yakuza mafia of Japan and the Russian Izmaylovskaya mafia.
Also named, and sanctioned, are the Kinahans’ close associates in the cartel and businesses they have an interest in, including a stake in a major UK-based drinks company that the Americans state was given to Daniel Kinahan to repay him when drugs were seized by law enforcement. Two UAE-based sports companies are also at the centre of the sanctions.
“The Kinahan organised crime group [KOCG] smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering,” said America’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian E Nelson.
“Criminal groups like the KOCG prey on the most vulnerable in society and bring drug-related crime and violence, including murder, to the countries in which they operate. Treasury is proud to have co-ordinated so closely with our international counterparts, and the US government will continue to use every available resource to dismantle these criminal networks.”
The US Department of the Treasury said on Monday night that as a result of the action being taken against the named people and businesses, “all property and interests in property of the designated individuals or entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to” the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
That office “administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States”.
As well as the three Kinahans, also named in the action are three Irish men who are Dubai-based and close allies of the Kinahans, and another Irishman, also a close ally of the Kinahans, who is resident in Spain.
The US authorities said Christy Kinahan snr had demonstrated “a long history of criminality” and had “served prison sentences in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, including: six years for dealing heroin, two-and-a-half years for possession of cocaine, and four years for money laundering”.
They said he had built a list of contacts that gradually grew into what is now known as the Kinahan organised crime group. However, the Americans added his sons – Daniel Kinahan and Christopher jnr – “now manage his drug trafficking operations while Christopher snr oversees the property portions” of the enterprise.
“For example, Christopher snr has registered a number of companies under aliases or using abbreviations of his name. Christopher snr has been known to have used false identity documents.”
Of Daniel Kinahan, the US Department of the Treasury said he was “believed to run the day-to-day operations” of the organisation.
‘Large quantities of cocaine’
"Daniel Kinahan has instructed KOCG members to send money to a variety of individuals serving prison sentences, including a person convicted of attempted murder on behalf of the KOCG, and an individual imprisoned for murder on behalf of the KOCG. Daniel Kinahan, who sources large quantities of cocaine from South America, plays an integral part in organising the supply of drugs in Ireland, and is attempting to facilitate the importation of cocaine into the United Kingdom. Daniel Kinahan is known to have used false identity documents."
It said Christopher jnr “regularly contributes to a fund” that is used to pay Kinahan organised crime group members.
“Additionally, Christopher jnr responds to directives from Daniel Kinahan and has collaborated with other members of the KOCG to transport and sell narcotics in the United Kingdom. Christopher jnr was also caught travelling with a false identity document in Germany. ”
Similar roles in the cartel were ascribed to Daniel Kinahan and Christy Kinahan jnr by the Criminal Assets Bureau in their evidence to the High Court, during actions they were taking against Irish-based cartel members.
The statement from the US added the Kinahan crime group “operates in Ireland and is also established in the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates” and that it is “designated as a significant transnational criminal organisation”.
The US added the Kinahan cartel “emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the most powerful organised crime group” operating in Ireland.
“Since then, Irish courts have concluded that the KOCG is a murderous organisation involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms. Criminal activities of the KOCG, including international money laundering, generate proceeds in the United Kingdom, which are then pooled together and passed to local criminals before being handed to Irish organized crime group members and laundered out of the United Kingdom.
“The KOCG also frequently uses Dubai as a facilitation hub for its illicit activities. Since February 2016, the KOCG has been involved in a gang war with another group in Ireland and Spain, resulting in numerous murders, including of two innocent bystanders.”
Speaking in Dublin, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government will consider putting up a similar reward to the $5 million sum offered by the US. Mr Martin said the Government would do everything it could to tackle criminality in Ireland and encourage co-operation with other countries.
“Crime crosses borders. Therefore we will discuss that (the question of a reward) with my Government colleagues and certainly, we will keep an issue like that under review,” he said.