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Rewards of up to $15 million for information that brings key Kinahan cartel figures to justice

It’s part of an unprecedented international action against the Irish-founded crime gang.

US AUTHORITIES ARE offering rewards totalling $15 million for information which helps bring three key members of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group to justice – namely Christy Kinahan Senior, the founder of the cartel, and his sons Christy Kinahan Junior and Daniel Kinahan. 

The announcement comes after this morning’s announcement of US sanctions against a total of seven figures who the US Treasury Department describe as key members of the cartel.

It’s part of an unprecedented international action against the Irish-founded crime gang being coordinated by US, EU and UK law enforcement. The various measures are expected to have a seismic impact on the operations of the criminal operation.

“As of today, the Kinahans join the ranks of the Camorra, the Yakuza” and the Russian mafia, one US government official said at today’s announcement. 

“You can run but you can’t hide from justice today,” is how Garda Commissioner Drew Harris put it.

He was outlining details of the crackdown on the gang at a press conference in Dublin this morning, flanked by high ranking government and law enforcement officials from both sides of the Atlantic. 

The rewards – amounting to up to $5 million US dollars for each of the three Kinahan family members – are being offered by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

DEA posters unveiled this morning state that the rewards will be offered “for information leading to the financial disruption of the Kinahan Organised Crime Organisation or the arrest and/or conviction” of any of the three men. 

The US Ambassador to Ireland Clare Cronin began this morning’s press conference at City Hall in Dublin before handing over to Harris. Cronin, who was sworn in as ambassador in January, said the Kinahan organisation had been accused of “heinous” crimes. Harris went on to describe it as “the first phase” of the operation.

Greg Gatjanis of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, one of a number of US officials in Ireland for today’s briefing, described the Kinahan cartel as global criminal enterprise with “tentacles spreading across many countries”.

Others named by Greg Gatjanis included: 

  • Ian Thomas Dixon (32) – accused of overseeing drug-related payments to the organisation
  • Sean McGovern (36) – accused of being a close advisor to Daniel Kinahan on “all criminal activites” and managing its communications
  • Bernard Clancy (44)- accused of being a key organisation member who distributes wages and payments for the organisation
  • John Francis Morrissey (62) – accused of money laundering and serving as the organisation’s enforcer and facilitator of illicit drug shipments from South America.

Screenshot 2022-04-12 12.57.57 PM The hierarchy of the Kinahan cartel. Source: US Treasury

All three Kinahans being targeted by the operation are understood to be currently based in Dubai, the US Treasury Department said. 

Sources have previously said that they own a number of properties in the city-state and move between these locations.

Previously the Kinahan family were primarly based in the south of Spain but moved to Dubai where they use the middle eastern city as a safe haven to avoid law enforcement. 

wanted

Overnight sanctions

Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in the earlier statement from the Treasury Department that the cartel “smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering”. 

“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 coordinated so closely with our international counterparts, and the U.S. government will continue to use every available resource to dismantle these criminal networks.”

The announcements today are all part of an action coordinated by various agencies in the US, including the DEA, in tandem with the UK National Crime Agency, EU law enforcement and the gardaí here.

The Treasury sanctions mean that US banks and companies are barred from doing business with the seven named individuals or with three businesses also named by the Treasury Department. They also mean the seven figures named will be banned from boarding US airlines. 

The overnight statement said: “As a result of today’s action, 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 U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC [the Office of Foreign Assets Control].”

Giving an overview of the Kinahan gang, the US Treasury Department statement notes that it “operates in Ireland and is also established in the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates”. 

“The KOCG 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 organised crime group members and laundered out of the United Kingdom.

“The KOCG also frequently uses Dubai as a facilitation hub for its illicit activities.”

Referring to the long-running Kinahan-Hutch feud the statement adds: “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.”

Daniel Kinahan has been by far the most high-profile member of the gang in Ireland in recent years partly due to his attempts to rehabilitate his reputation as a figure in the world of professional boxing.

He has no criminal convictions but is wanted by authorities for questioning in relation to a number of serious offences. 

In a High Court affidavit in 2019, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) described how he managed and controlled the day-to-day operations of the Kinahan Organised Crime Gang. The same affidavit also named Christopher Junior as having a controlling role in the criminal operation. 

The Treasury Department statement notes that Christy Kinahan Senior “has 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”.

“During this time he was building a list of contacts that grew to what became known as the KOCG.

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“Christopher Sr.’s sons, Daniel Kinahan and Christopher Jr., now manage his drug trafficking operations while Christopher Sr. oversees the property portions of the enterprise.”

Dubai has been used by a number criminal groups, including groups aligned to the Kinahans from Italy and the Netherlands, as a location which puts them beyond the reach of European law enforcement agencies.

The Dubai authorities have traditionally not co-operated with requests for arrests and extradition of these serious criminals.

However that has begun to change in recent years and the recent arrest and extradition of Raffaele Imperiale, the leader of the Comorrah and the 2019 arrest and extradition of Dutch gang leader Ridouan Taghi has meant that Dubai is now a more difficult location for criminals to remain in.

It is hoped, sources believe, that the involvement of US authorities may drive forward Dubai co-operation with An Garda Síochána in their efforts to bring the Kinahans before an Irish court.

“Today shows the determination of An Garda Síochána to dismantle the Kinahan organised crime group,” Justice Minister Helen McEntee said.

“It shows the value of international co-operation in ensuring that those who spread misery in our communities are brought to justice. Nobody is out of the reach of the law.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar welcomed the move by the US earlier today, saying that the KOCG had escaped justice for “far too long”.

“I hope people see it produce results, because that particular organization has escaped justice for far too long and perhaps this is evidence of the net getting tighter,” said Varadkar.

About the author:

Daragh Brophy, Garreth MacNamee and Niall O'Connor

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