Unprecedented international action taken against Kinahan crime group as US imposes sanctions

Kinahans named by US as being at apex of criminal network and sanctions moved against them

Irish, American and British law enforcement have 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, Daniel and Christopher jnr – were last 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.

Also named, and sanctioned, are their 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.

Most vulnerable

“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 last 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”.

While the statement by American law enforcement last night set out its position, the details of the actions being taken by An Garda Síochána and the British authorities were expected to emerge imminently.

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 Americans 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 late on Tuesday night 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 Americans added the Kinahan cartel “emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the most powerful organised crime group” operating in Ireland.

It continued: “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."

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times