Christy Kinahan Snr the Mastermind behind the Kinahan Drug Cartel, and Police sources say, he still is, with his trusted friend John the Colonel Cunningham,

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Dublin’s dead men walking: 29 on death list in brutal gangland war


Police say no end in sight to fight over drug trade by rival gangs loyal to Christy Kinahan and Gerry Hutch

Forensic officer at the scene of a fatal shooting in               Dublin's Sheriff Street
The shooting war between rival gangs has resulted in areas such as Sheriff Street in central Dublin being put under 24/7 police surveillance. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

In the most violent gangland feud in Irish criminal history they are Dublin’s dead men walking.

As one international crime gang headed up by a Dublin drug smuggler seeks to annihilate its rival in the Irish capital, at least 29 men have been told they are on death lists.

Fifteen people have already died, with many more injured and dozens of families have been driven from their homes by fear and intimidation during two years of gang warfare between master criminals Christy Kinahan and Gerry “The Monk” Hutch. There is seemingly no end in sight to their fight over the Dublin drug trade, which has intensified and become ever more personal.

The Guardian has learned that the joint policing committee in Dublin, which brings together elected representatives including city councillors and senior police officers, received information at the start of the year that detectives have informed 29 men they risk being assassinated.

Despite appeals from politicians, community leaders and church figures for an end to the bloodletting, the Kinahan cartel appears determined to wipe out the entire Hutch gang and anyone it perceives as loyal to it.

The shooting war has resulted in areas such as Sheriff Street in central Dublin, not far from the city’s main O’Connell Street thoroughfare, being put under 24/7 police surveillance. Armed detectives are parked in cars outside the homes of Hutch associates. Similar patrols have been deployed on a round-the-clock basis in areas seen as Kinahan gang strongholds, such as Crumlin and Ballyfermot, south of the river Liffey.

Moment shooting begins at Dublin boxing weigh-in

The feud, which began in September 2015 when Hutch’s nephew Gary was killed in Spain, grabbed global attention at the start of 2016 when Hutch’s men launched a “spectacular” revenge attack at a boxing weigh-in in the Regency hotel in north Dublin.

Hutch’s gang had intended to kill a large group of men they believed were linked to Kinahan by deploying two gunmen, disguised as police, carrying AK-47 assault rifles. Another gunman, carrying an automatic pistol around the front of the hotel, was dressed as a woman.

The hotel’s CCTV equipment and live TV coverage of the weigh-in captured the entire armed assault. Images of people fleeing in blind panic from men wearing police hi-vis yellow bibs and and clutching Kalashnikovs were beamed across the world. David Byrne, a Kinahan “soldier”, was shot dead.

But the “spectacular” spectacularly backfired on the Hutch gang. In the ensuing feud, the Kinahan gang, whose boss moves between properties in Spain, north Africa and Dubai, has been responsible for 13 out of the 15 killings. Among the dead were two innocent civilians who were killed because they were mistakenly associated with Hutch.

Derek Coakley-Hutch, a nephew of Hutch, was the latest to die, gunned down last month while sitting in a car near Dublin’s Wheatfield prison. At the time, the 27-year-old and his associates were involved in a plot to throw a parcel of drugs over the prison wall.

Jimmy Guerin, a Dublin county councillor, has been campaigning against the pervasive influence of the crime gangs ever since his sister Veronica was shot dead on the orders of aconvicted drug-dealing gangster in 1996.

Guerin said that, ironically, crime has fallen in some of the hotspot areas as the feud has intensified and police have been deployed around the clock.

Jimmy               Guerin, brother of murdered investigative journalist               Veronica Guerin
Jimmy Guerin, brother of the murdered investigative journalist Veronica Guerin. Photograph: Steve Humphreys/PA

“This feud is about more than just drugs,” Guerin said. “It is also about a clash of personalities and deep personal bitterness.”

Responding to widespread public anger over the death of Veronica Guerin, the Irish state established the Criminal Assets Bureau in 1996. The CAB was given unprecedented powers to seize the assets and wealth of suspected top criminals and led to many of the country’s most notorious gangsters fleeing Ireland, some of them angrily blaming the Gilligan gang for “crossing the line” by killing a journalist and bringing the full glare of the state’s scrutiny on to their operations.

Irish authorities have seized drugs worth hundreds of weapons and millions of euros and cash in the fight against the gangs, but Guerin said he believed more could still be done.

“They need to bring back experienced detectives from retirement and take a more comprehensive approach to tackling this gangster culture in Dublin,” he said.

Guerin praised the police for putting hotspot areas into lockdown, a measure he said had saved lives. “But they can only thwart so many attacks. Others will get through, especially because the Kinahan gang has the resources to pay young criminals to carry out its hits. It is spending tens of thousands of euros and offering to wipe out drug debts to addicts and petty criminals if they will attack anyone connected to the Hutch gang.”

The constituency of another councillor, Mannix Flynn, includes some of the south Dublin inner-city areas regarded as more loyal to Kinahan’s gang.  Anyone even remotely associated, or thought to be associated, with the Hutch family has been driven out of their homes, he said.

Unlike during previous Dublin gang disputes, Flynn added, there is no “mafia-style commission” providing a mediation mechanism for gangs to sort out their differences.

“This feud, I am sad to say, is here to stay. There is no mediation process and no one either side will listen. This is way beyond negotiations now and is a fight to the death.”

The battleground has even extended to Ireland’s maximum-security prisons. Convicted criminals with associations to both gangs have to be housed on separate landings and prison officers made aware of their affiliations in order to avoid clashes.

Flynn said the climate of fear crept into every area of life in the communities where the “war” is taking place.

“In certain pubs and clubs, whether here in the south inner city or in the northside [of Dublin], there are people who get up and leave at the first sight of certain individuals they think are either under threat or are involved in the shooting war. The fear is everywhere in these communities and no one in them feels safe any more,” Flynn said.

According to a senior veteran detective who spoke to the Guardian, the feuding will only end if one of the two master criminals is killed.

The detective confirmed reports in Dublin that, from his various bases across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Kinahan has offered a bounty of several thousand euros to have his bitter rival kidnapped and killed in a slow painful death.

The bounty reflected the deep-rooted hatred Kinahan bears toward Hutch, he said, but there were more rational, economic reasons for Kinahan to wipe out his rival and his gang.

“For decades the gang aligned to Gerry Hutch had control of the smuggling routes based at Dublin port. The Kinahan cartel have always craved control of that network and by defeating the Hutch gang they would take over these routes. There is more to all this carnage than just a bloody vendetta, although that is important. The Kinahans have more than one reason to wage war until they win,” he said.

Who is the kingpin behind Irish-led cartel based in Spain?

Christy Kinahan is regarded as the biggest wholesaler of drugs for Irish crime gangs

Dubliner David Byrne, who was shot dead by a gang of six men at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on Friday, had close links with an international Irish-led crime cartel.

The man understood to be at the head of that gang, Christy Kinahan (57), has drug and money laundering convictions in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Kinahan has had Irish addresses at York Street and St Teresa’s Gardens in Dublin’s inner city, as well as at Cabra, Phibsboro and Fairview, all on the north side of the city, but he is now based in Marbella in southern Spain.

Crime agencies regard him as the biggest wholesaler of illicit drugs for Irish crime gangs.

Despite being subjected to a major international law enforcement investigation and co-ordinated raids all over Europe, including in Ireland, five years ago, he remains at liberty.

Kinahan grew up in a block of council flats in St Theresa’s Gardens in Dublin’s south inner city. He is from a highly respected family, one member of whom is well-known in the Irish trade union scene.

Christy Kinahan’s first convictions date back to the late 1970s and involved house breaking, car theft, burglary, handling stolen goods and forgery.

His first major conviction related to the seizure in Marino, north Dublin, of heroin valued at £117,000 in 1986, for which he was jailed for six years.

From that beginning, Kinahan operations have expanded to a point where he is now considered to be the key wholesaler of drugs to the Irish market. Kinahan’s operation also supplies gangs in other countries, including the UK.

Kinahan knew most of the men at the top of the organisation from the crime scene in Dublin, or got to know them while supplying drugs to Irish gangs.

He is understood to have amassed a vast personal fortune over the last 15 years through drug-dealing, and investing and laundering the proceeds of his crimes.

Kinahan’s early days

Regarded as one of the most intelligent Irish criminals involved in the international drugs trade, Kinahan speaks several foreign languages, including Dutch and Spanish.

During a prison term in the 1990s he studied for a degree course in French and refused temporary release so he could complete it.

In March 1987 he was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possessing heroin valued at £117,000. He told the court he was a heroin addict and was trying to turn his life around by studying in prison.

In March 1998 he was jailed for four years after he was found in possession of £16,000 in stolen travellers’ cheques.

Kinahan, a separated father-of-three, also has convictions for forgery and for possession of cannabis.

He served at least one of his sentences in the State’s maximum security prison in Portlaoise. He was released from his last prison sentence in 2001 and is believed to have left for Spain within months.

He has a villa near Marbella which had an estimated worth about €6 million at the height of the property boom there, and also regularly uses a nearby apartment worth in the region of €1 million.

He is a high-stakes gambler and is also suspected of involvement in fixing horse races he bets on.

On moving to Spain almost 15 years ago, he immediately established international drug-dealing contacts there.

He began sourcing massive drug shipments from Colombian, Spanish and north African cartels for sale to Irish criminals.

He has served jail sentences in the Netherlands.

Just over five years ago he was convicted of money laundering in Belgium, and jailed for four years.

However, he was granted bail pending an appeal, which was due to be heard in April 2010.

1: Regency Hotel: scene of gun attack which left one dead

2: Charlemont housing estate: burned-out getaway van found at rear of estate

3: St Vincent’s GAA club: gunmen believed to have escaped through grounds


He was arrested in Belgium in May 2008 after authorities there traced cash and assets owned by him to the value of €2.5 million.

A further 500kg of the drug was seized in a car in Kill as part of the same operation, bringing the value of the drug seized to €10.5 million.

Four men were arrested at Clongorey, an industrial estate near Newbridge and in a vehicle in Kill.

Three firearms were also seized, including a rifle with a telescopic sight and silencer, a pump-action shotgun and a single barrel shotgun.

Two Irishmen were convicted for their role in the Kildare find, and two others who were charged went on the run. One is a former League of Ireland soccer player.

When gardaí began looking into the background of the Kildare haul, a very interesting picture emerged.

They found it was linked to a group of Irish criminals – led by Kinahan – based in Malaga and Marbella, in southern Spain.

These men had set up small food companies and started importing inexpensive foodstuffs from Spain.

Once they had established a record of having imported shipments of food into small warehouses in Ireland on vehicles registered to their company, they began smuggling drugs on those food export runs.

The property in Clongorey included a warehouse with forklift and trucks, all being used to move large consignments of drugs quickly around the country once they had entered Ireland from Spain in trucks on car ferries.

Once here, the drugs, mainly cannabis and cocaine, were sold on wholesale in multimillion-euro batches to crime gangs nationwide.

Up to that point, in early 2008, Kinahan had not aligned himself to any one gang in Ireland.

He stayed out of gangland feuds here and simply acted as a wholesaler to all of the main players. These include key drugs gangs in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and in the regions.

Investigation moves to UK

The Garda’s investigation arising from the Co Kildare cannabis find in February 2008 identified an identical operation run by Kinahan in England.

It was centred mostly in the greater London area, where front companies with vehicles and small warehouses were used to ship in drugs from Spain.

An international investigation led by the Garda and supported by the authorities in the UK found the front companies in both jurisdictions were linked to a parent front company in Spain.

All of these companies were controlled by Kinahan and those around him.

Information supplied by the Garda to the London Metropolitan Police resulted in the seizure in March, 2009, of eight semi-automatic firearms, four machine guns and ammunition and silencers.

The UK police believed the guns originated in Spain and were shipped via the front companies. The UK police were now as interested in Kinahan as the gardaí.

In Spain, things began to get serious for Kinahan from the time of the Kildare drugs find in February 2008.

Indeed, in the same month members of the Kinahan gang shot dead Paddy Doyle near Marbella. He was a 27-year-old from Dublin’s north inner city and was a chief suspect for at least three murders committed as part of the Crumlin-Drimnagh gangland feud.

When the Spanish police began investigating that killing, they quickly realised gardaí were unpicking the background and modus operandi of the same gang it believed shot dead Doyle.

Co-ordinated raids internationally

In May, 2010, after more than two years of international investigation into the Kinahan gang arising from the Kildare cannabis seizure and the Doyle murder in Spain, police forces in a number of European countries moved against the Kinahan gang with co-ordinated surprise raids and arrests.

A total of 700 police officers from across Europe began to kick in the doors of business outlets and residential properties where the gang leaders, including Kinahan, were sleeping.

The investigation focused not only on drug-trafficking but on the money-laundering and property investments in which Kinahan, who was arrested at his Marbella villa, was involved.

Gardaí believed the gang led by Kinahan was not only laundering its own money and buying property for itself but had also acted as a financial services agent for other criminal gangs.

At the time of the May 2010 raids, under Operation Shovel, properties owned by Kinahan and his associates were identified across the world and have an estimated combined value of over €150 million.

The properties were mainly residential but include some business interests such as pubs and small retail businesses.

Properties were traced in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Dubai, South African, Brazil and Cyprus. A network of solicitors and accountants in all of those jurisdictions have been used to buy property.

However, while the arrests of Kinahan and his associates and the discovery of how so much of his operation worked was billed as a spectacular breakthrough at the time, Kinahan and his associates were released without charge.

The huge investigation was unable to find enough direct evidence to link the key men to specific crimes they could be charged with.

And in the five years since, it has been business as usual under the Spanish sun for Kinahan.

Gary Hutch and Regency Hotel

When the Operation Shovel raids were taking place during the last week of May 2010, only one person was arrested in Dublin despite a large number of searches there.

That suspect’s name was Gary Hutch – the Dubliner from the north inner city who members of the Kinahan gang would fall out with and murder in Spain last September.

Hutch was 34 years old when he was shot dead beside the pool at an apartment block, Angel de Miraflores, near Marbella, on the Costa del Sol.

His murder effectively began a feud between his large group of associates in Dublin and members of the Kinahan gang in Spain and its associates in Dublin.

Gardai believe Friday’s attack at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra, north Dublin, was an attempt by Hutch’s associates to target members of the Kinahan gang who were in Dublin.

The man shot dead, David Byrne from Crumlin, split his time between Dublin and Spain. The gunmen are understood to have targeted him.

The another target was Kinahan’s son, Daniel Kinahan, who had travelled from Spain for the boxing tournament due to take place in Dublin on Saturday night – the weigh-in for which was the scene of Friday’s hotel shooting.

The savage and well-planned nature of the attack essentially puts those loyal to Gary Hutch at odds with members of the Kinahan gang in an all-out underworld feud.

Any members of the Kinahan gang living in Dublin or even spending some of their time in the city are expected to flee to his base in Marbella, at least for the time being.

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