Gardaí target drug smuggling gang in 18 separate raids

Cars, watches and designer clothes seized by armed officers in co-ordinated action


Conor Lally

Security and Crime Editor

A Dublin man in his 30s has been targeted in the latest Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) raid into Kinahan crime cartel members still based in the city.

One of the 18 properties searched yesterday was the home of a relative of a well-known Irish celebrity.

Previous investigations by the Cab revealed the Crumlin home of Liam Byrne, named in the High Court as the Kinahan cartel’s lieutenant in Dublin, had undergone lavish renovations costing €740,000.

The searches carried out on Wednesday unearthed what gardaí believe is documentary evidence of other significant expenditure on houses owned and linked to those involved in the Kinahan cartel.

Other financial documents seized also relate to investments made by those involved in the cartel in Dublin.

Nine homes, a car dealership and eight professional services offices, including solicitors and tax and planning companies, were searched.

Gardaí seized seven Rolex watches from three houses; two in Dublin and one in Kildare. A 152 Nissan Xtrail SUV and 141 Landrover Discovery were also seized along with a large assortment of designer clothing.

A GPS tracker was found and documents - including those in paper form and others stored on computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices - were also seized. While these must now be reviewed by detectives and forensic accountants, Cab believes they amount to evidence of significant investments and movements of money.

Of the nine residential properties searched, three are owned by one man and another four are owned by members of the same family.

The target of the operation is a convicted drug dealer from Crumlin who was previously involved in the Liam Byrne and Freddie Thompson gang that comprised one side of the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud. That feud began in 2000 and continued for almost a decade.

The Byrne-Thompson gang emerged from that dispute and effectively become the Dublin unit of the international Kinahan cartel. The cartel’s international leadership was based in southern Spain but has now moved to Dubai.

And while Liam Byrne (38), Raleigh Square, Crumlin, has now had many of his assets in Dublin stripped by Cab and has moved to the Birmingham area, other members of the Kinahan Dublin-based group remain living in the Irish capital.

Garda sources said the main target of the raids is regarded as a senior management figure in the Dublin operation of the Kinahan cartel.

He was arrested yesterday, on suspicion of money laundering offences, by members of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, which led the raids with Cab.

The suspect has spent a lengthy period in prison after being caught in possession of cocaine and ecstasy when he was a teenager. However, while he spent much of his 20s in jail, he was released and immediately resumed his place in the Byrne-Thompson organised crime group, which has been led by Byrne since 2008.

The man was also among a group who played prominent roles in the funeral of David Byrne; the brother of Liam Byrne was shot in the Regency Hotel in February, 2016, as part of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Because of the security risks associated with calling to the homes of some of the people targeted yesterday, three armed units of the Garda were called in; the Emergency Response Unit, the Dublin Armed Support Unit and the Eastern Region Armed Support Unit.

The Dublin metropolitan region south detective unit was also involved as was the Garda Dog Unit and Garda helicopter.

Five houses in Clondalkin were searched as well as two in Crumlin, one in Ballyfermot and one in Co Kildare.