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Cartel regrets: A minimum of €42 million has been lost by the Kinahans since the feud began

And that’s only taking seizures into account.

Gardaí at the scene at the murder of Eddie Hutch Snr.
Gardaí at the scene at the murder of Eddie Hutch Snr.
Image: Brian Lawless

THE KINAHAN CARTEL has lost at least €42 million in the last 12 months as gardaí have cracked down on the gang’s activities.

The gang, led by a number of men from Dublin’s inner city, has been on the back foot for a number of months as senior members of the drug gang count the cost of pursuing the Hutch gang to avenge the Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne.

Where once they were behind the bloodiest year in Irish gangland history, they are now running for cover, attempting to squirrel assets away before the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is able to seize their wealth.

The estimated baseline figure of the Kinahan cartel’s losses in the last 12 months stands at €42 million. This figure is arrived at by calculating drug and weapon seizures conducted under Operation Thistle while also taking into account significant seizures by CAB and Revenue and Customs.

Operation Thistle is being led by Detective Inspector Paul Cleary and Detective Superintendent Peter O’Boyle from Kevin Street garda station.

At the start of the year, gardaí, along with Revenue and Customs seized €37.5 million worth of cannabis. Investigations into the haul have led officers to believe that it was to be distributed by the Kinahan cartel both here and in the UK.

Since the murder rate in the capital soared and the presence of armed garda units increased, doing business in Dublin and the continent has become more difficult. This is true not just for the low-level players but now the trusted lieutenants and gang leaders. More attention, both garda and public, since the infamous Regency Hotel murder last year, has led to a considerable dent in their profits.

David Byrne funeral David Byrne's funeral cortege. Source: Niall Carson/PA

Garda Arms Find 396_90500909 Guns seized in west Dublin. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The cartel’s base on the Costa Del Sol in Spain is also under constant surveillance, leading its former leader, Christy Kinahan Snr, to hand the empire to trusted allies while he operates his property empire from a hideout in Dubai. Liam Byrne, brother of Regency victim David, was seen by gardaí travelling to the Emirati nation last year where it is believed orders were still being given at that time by Kinahan Snr on how to proceed with the feud. They are also being pursued in the Netherlands, Portugal, Morocco as well as the UAE, where they have vested interests.

And it was Byrne who was mentioned in court this week as CAB attempts to sell of €500,000 worth of assets it seized from him last year.

Dublin crime gang raids A BMW car is seized by members of the Criminal Assets Bureau carrying out searches on homes and businesses last year. Source: Niall Carson/PA

Earlier this year, gardaí raided a premises in west Dublin where they seized nine revolvers, four semi-automatic pistols, a submachine gun and an assault rifle. Nearly 1,500 rounds of ammunition was also discovered. In follow-up searches, another €300k in cash was found. Much of the cash was stuffed in bags and hidden in innocent people’s homes.

Various garda investigations and continuous work by elite and uniformed officers have severely restricted how the cartel can operate. Serious charges now face a number of people suspected of being members of the gang.

There are also rumours that there is a senior member of the cartel who has been giving information to gardaí. In one case, one of them was giving information to officers over the murder of Gary Hutch, who was killed in the south of Spain as members of the cartel thought he was an informer.

Not only has there been a high number of seizures in Dublin and abroad, the increased surveillance is making it extremely difficult for the cartel to conduct business in the way it used to.

Shooting at Dublin hotel Gardaí at the Eddie Hutch Snr murder scene. Source: Niall Carson/PA

While it is difficult to estimate the losses this increased activity has had on business, well-placed sources say that multiples of millions of euro have been lost. Many of the Kinahan’s long-term business partners, especially on the continent, are now sourcing drugs from other gangs.

Twelve men, including a number of innocent people, have lost their lives since the bloodshed began.

But it has now been the second quietest period since the feud began. It has been over 10 weeks since Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan was murdered outside his home in west Dublin shortly before Christmas.

The longest this gang war has gone without a murder is 18 weeks. This was the length of time between the deaths of innocent council worker Trevor O’Neill in Spain and the abovementioned killing of Noel Kirwan.

Officers believe they stopped seven separate murders attempts over the Christmas period. Loaded guns and ammo had been found in a number of cars. Guns, cash and drugs are now being hidden in their partner or mistresses’ homes such is the level of the high-ranking member’s desperation.

For gardaí, this is a war they have been fighting for decades but the feeling is that there is serious potential to dismantle this cartel’s influence in Ireland. As one security source put it, there will always be a demand for drugs. The only thing that changes is the people who are bringing them in.

Read: CAB wants to sell €500k-worth of assets ‘linked to Kinahan cartel’ >

Read: Kinahan cartel member’s girlfriend arrested after gardaí seize loaded revolver in Dublin >

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