gangland ireland

The curious case of Daniel Kinahan: Cocaine scion or boxing power broker?

This week, the courts got an insight into Daniel Kinahan’s own fight to persuade the world he is not the crime boss Ireland believes he is.

DANIEL KINAHAN INHERITED the family business. A scion of the Kinahan cartel, he has avoided being shot or jailed and is now carving out a career in a sport much loved in Ireland and in global investor circles.

But how does the man, whose family name is attached to the most notorious gang feud in Irish history – responsible for at least 16 deaths and countless other drug crimes – live untouched by the authority’s crackdown?

This week, we got an insight into Daniel Kinahan’s own fight to persuade the world he is not a crime boss Ireland believes he is.

Over the last seven days, the two personas wrangled for top billing – the suspected cocaine baron and the exemplary boxing promoter.

On Thursday, it emerged that Kinahan had been appointed as a special advisor for a sports company in Bahrain. But earlier in the week, in the Special Criminal Court, a detective superintendent laid bare the inner workings of the drugs cartel.

Despite the links to criminality, he now has the potential to control the boxing business in the Middle East – a location he fled to as the Kinahan/Hutch feud spiralled out of control. 

KHK Sports, announcing the new role, described him as an “international boxing power broker”.

A statement released by the firm quotes Kinahan, the first time he has publicly spoken on anything since the now infamous events at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

He said: 

It is an honour for me to work with His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Khalifa, Mr Mohammed Shahid and the entire team at KHK Sports. KHK Sports has made an impressive mark on the world of combat sports and has fantastic ambitions to grow into a global powerhouse. I look forward to working with the team to realise these dreams and further build Bahrain combat sports into a globally recognised presence.

A polished statement, fitting of a footballer who has just signed for a mid-table Premier League club, a new high in Kinahan’s plan to legitimise himself and his boxing career path.

That plan has been ongoing for time with orders to his boxing underlings to share similar missives online and in the press in the hope that the words of gardaí and international police forces – who have had to deal with the appalling consequences of the Kinahan cartel criminality for the last decade – will be dismissed.

When reporters ask boxers if they think being associated with Daniel Kinahan sends the wrong message about the sport, their answers are always similar. 

“Daniel’s a great man.”

“Daniel is being unfairly treated.”

“The press is out to get him.”

“Daniel’s a friend of mine.” 

Kinahan has long been involved in the boxing world. In 2012, he set up what was then known as MGM Boxing.

It gained notoriety after its Clash of the Clans event in February of 2016 was stormed by three men dressed as gardaí and brandishing AK-47s at the Regency Hotel in Dublin. One man was shot dead and another two injured. 

Rebranded as MTK Global the following year, the company announced that it had “cut ties” with its founder. 

That same year saw the emergence of a battle, still ongoing, between the Irish media and MTK Global.

Confirming a ban on Irish media, CEO Sandra Vaughan said: “Despite announcing MTK Global cutting all ties with Daniel Kinahan in February 2017, and announcing a full management buy-in by myself in October 2017, the Irish media have continued to vilify MTK Global in all and any mention of Irish boxing and MTK Global signed boxers.” 

The sport and business of boxing has been infiltrated by criminal elements for the best part of two decades. The potential to earn large amounts of cash and to rub shoulders with the rich and famous at ringsides around the world proved alluring for Ireland’s top criminals. 

Kinahan himself has been photographed with some of the sport’s leading lights. Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury even shared a selfie with Kinahan on Twitter.

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 12.42.44 PM Tyson Fury and Daniel Kinahan. Twitter Twitter

Garda intelligence and the cartel 

Daniel Kinahan has no criminal convictions.

However, he is wanted for questioning in relation to a number of serious offences, including conspiracy to murder and drug crimes. 

Police forces across the world suspect Daniel Kinahan holds a leading role in a billion euro drugs cartel, one which spans three continents and has been linked to the murder of countless people across the world. 

In a High Court affidavit in Ireland, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) described how he managed and controlled the day-to-day operations of the drug gang.

Yet, he remains unscathed, physically and judicially.

He has never been convicted of any offence relating to his criminal empire and has dodged multiple attempts on his life.

Daniel Kinahan, gardaí believe, took over the reins of the cartel around five years ago. His father, convicted drug dealer Christy Senior, wanted to retire with the spoils of his own criminal dealings. 

Gardaí believe Daniel’s ability to duck the law is down to what some sources have described as meticulous planning, including keeping the absolute minimum number of people in the know about certain business ventures. That careful nature was revealed in court on Monday as the public received a detailed insight into how exactly the cartel works.

90407529 The scene at the Regency Hotel in in Dublin in 2016. Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

Detective Superintendent David Gallagher of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau laid bare the workings of the Kinahan gang during 31-year-old Mark Capper’s sentence hearing. 

Capper withdrew from a plan to murder Patrick ‘Patsy’ Hutch, the Special Criminal Court heard.

Detective Superintendent Gallagher told the Special Criminal Court today he was satisfied the criminal organisation that targeted Hutch was the Kinahan gang.

Gallagher said that the criminal gang has a hierarchical structure with subcells within which people were allotted specific roles. He agreed with counsel for the defence that Capper was a “foot soldier” who had financial problems.

Designed with impeccable attention to detail, the system ensured no one cell member could have the requisite information to make any form of deal with authorities should they wish to turn tout. 

What Capper’s sentence hearing also showed was this cartel is not completely disbanded or collapsed despite successful prosecutions of gang leaders, but instead has morphed into another iteration.

Three years ago, elite garda units were arresting and charging serious players within the gang. Daniel fled as the cartel began to crumble, initially going to Spain before settling in Dubai.

The organised crime gang was then riddled with informants and needed to change. 

What you have now is the emergence of these sub-cells, such as the Gucci Gang in Finglas, controlled by a young Kinahan foot-soldier known as Mr Flashy, owing to his tastes for designer labels. 

These gangs are operating all over the country, as well as in Spain and the Netherlands. 

Gang war

It has always been the contention of gardaí that Daniel Kinahan, who was present at the 2016 Regency Hotel boxing weigh-in, was the target of the shooters.

The war with the Hutch gang had effectively began when Gary Hutch, who was working for the Kinahan cartel was murdered in Spain in September 2015 as he was suspected of being an informant. The Regency Hotel shooting – which left enforcer David Byrne dead – was the retaliation. 

The cartel which had been styling itself as a business became embroiled in an all-out crime gang war fuelled by pride, hatred and a desire for retribution.

More murders. Over the next four months of 2016, Eddie Hutch Senior, Noel Duggan, Martin O’Rourke, Michael Barr and Gareth Hutch lost their lives. O’Rourke was killed on Sheriff Street in Dublin in a case of mistaken identity. 

90420701 Gareth Hutch's funeral cortege.

In the second half of the year, Daithí Douglas, Trevor O’Neill and Noel Kirwan were all killed.

O’Neill’s murder was another tragic case of mistaken identity. 

The pace of the killing slowed in 2017 but on 31 May, Michael Keogh was murdered on Dorset Street in Dublin. On 2 December, Noel Kirwan’s son Caine McCormack-Kirwan was also killed. 

Through 2018, four men were targeted as part of the feud: Derek Coakley-Hutch, Jason Molyneux, Clive Staunton and Eric Fowler 

There are multiple other murders suspected of being carried out as a result of the feud, including that of Sean Little and Iranian hitman Hamid Sanambar. 

As the body count increased, Kinahan cartel members are suspected of using encrypted phones to speak with suppliers in South America from his location in Dubai.

Boxing and Dubai

This week, The Irish Sun reported how Kinahan is currently negotiating to have one of the biggest proposed fights in boxing history staged in the ­Middle East.

Iconic boxing promoter Bob Arum told The Irish Sun that “everyone trusts Kinahan” and that he has “very good connections”.

In recent weeks, a number of MTK boxers have come out on social media to defend Kinahan. 

In one bizarre incident, a rap video was released on YouTube which appeared to blame the gardaí for “allowing” the Regency attack to happen. 

1 DUBLIN SHOOTING SCENE Gardaí at a murder scene in 2018. Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

The song, called Major Plans by artist J Spades, was released on YouTube last month. It was then shared by a number of MTK boxers in what appeared to be a concerted effort at a campaign to repair the reputation of one of the most wanted men in Ireland.

As Kinahan himself resides in his house on the outskirts of Dubai, patrolled by armed private security guards, his associates are beginning to get caught, tried and imprisoned. 

Recently, international police arrested drug leaders who had also been hiding out in Dubai. 

In December last year, Dutch police flew the country’s most wanted criminal out of Dubai two days after his arrest on murder and drug trafficking charges.

Ridouan Taghi, 41, who was wanted on international arrest warrants for murder and drug trafficking, was held at a house in the Gulf emirate.

Taghi hit the headlines in September when a Dutch lawyer for a state witness in a case against him was shot dead near his home in Amsterdam.

Taghi has long been considered part of a larger Europe-wide cartel, with links to the Kinahans.

This so-called super cartel consists of Italian mob boss Raffaele Imperiale and Bosnian trafficker Edin Gacanin. The pair also reside in Dubai. has attempted to speak with the Dubai police about Daniel Kinahan. On each occasion, the force told us it had no comment to make on the man who is wanted for questioning in at least three European states, whose cartel is linked to more than 20 murders and who is suspected by authorities to be heavily involved in the European drug trade.

For now, he is free to create a new life, and a new career.