Kinahan gang’s bid to leave behind past for Middle East boxing rebirth begins to crumble
The trail of blood started at the Regency has now led all the way back to the Kinahans’ door
It’s a tale as old as the underworld.
The ageing Don hoping to see the family name whitewashed by the younger generation.
A succession that would see the dynasty emerge from the shadow of its criminal DNA to become legitimate in the eyes of society.
In his gilded Middle East bolthole, that has been the dream of Christy Kinahan Senior as he watched his son Daniel’s bid to shake off the reputation of a crime empire that bears the family name.
But in recent weeks he has watched as that dream has crashed and burned in the desert hideaway where the Kinahans had been rebuilding and rebranding the family business.
And the old Don is furious. What began as a distant rumble in Ireland has become a shockwave that is threatening to sweep away his empire in the sun.
It’s just two short months since a sports company linked to the Royal family in Bahrain issued a press release on its partnership with the MTK boxing team and quoted its new advisor Daniel Kinahan as if he were just any other corporate honcho.
That was followed by an extraordinary tweet from heavyweight champion Tyson Fury telling the world that four years after a murder at a boxing event in a Dublin hotel had sparked a gang war that cost 18 lives, Daniel Kinahan was back at the very top of the fight game.
He was stepping from the shadows as the powerbroker behind one of the biggest fights in history.
And then – just when ‘Don’ Christy must have thought the family was about to get out – they were dragged back in.
Irish journalists and political figures led a furious backlash.
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First the TV money that would fuel the €250 million superfight got spooked.
Then Fury distanced himself from the man he credited with getting the deal over the line for a clash with rival Anthony Joshua.
The blows rained down fast and furious with a damning Special Criminal Court ruling in no doubt the crime gang bearing the Kinahans’ name was behind murder and mayhem on the streets.
Even more alarming for the Old Don, was when he heard the family business being discussed in the Dail.
The Taoiseach himself said the state was in contact with Daniel Kinahan’s Arab hosts in the UAE to inform them of the rulings of various Irish courts. Senior Gardai also vowed to not stop until they take out the top layer of the cartel.
For the first time since Spanish cops frogmarched him in his underwear and handcuffs from his Costa del Sol stronghold in 2010, the Don is feeling the heat again.
The spotlight is now firmly upon his Dubai fortress and the short-tempered Kinahan senior is said to be furious.
The country which does not even tolerate photographers on the streets had provided the perfect exile to lay low from the Kinahan-Hutch feud and rebuild following that Spanish investigation.
In the heavily policed state where surveillance is a way of life and money is a ticket to respectability, Kinahan feels untouchable.
While younger criminals carried out the dirty work at home, the educated Don has busied himself setting up business deals according to sources.
He flies regularly to commercial hubs like Hong Kong and investigators believe he has assets beyond the reach of police probes such as the ongoing Operation Shovel in Spain.
That 2010 investigation showed the scale of Kinahan senior’s organisation and ambition. Police were stunned to discover a €500 million property and business empire stretching as far as Brazil.
But as that original Spanish probe has faltered, there are those that believe it only found the tip of an iceberg that the cartel wished it to see.
Gardai believe the financial tentacles of the empire have continued to spread abroad in the decade since.
To those who have watched his career, it’s no surprise that Kinahan senior rose above the grubby day-to-day reality of the organised crime group bearing his surname.
He stands alone among his criminal peers from 80s Dublin. For a start he is alive, unlike godfathers such as Martin Cahill. The law didn’t beat him yet, like it did John Gilligan.
And he still lives the high life of a movie mobster, while the young guns that came after him carry on feuds from fortified Dublin council houses – in many cases shooting each other over drugs imported by the Kinahan Organised Crime Group with weapons imported by the Kinahan Organised Crime Group.
Contrary to the myth of the hardened inner-city Don, Christy Kinahan senior was born and reared in middle class Drumcondra.
When Ireland’s first drug lord Larry Dunne infamously warned about the criminals coming after him, he wasn’t looking too far over his shoulder.
The first to fill the vacuum was the ambitious Kinahan who began peddling heroin in 1986 as soon Dunne was out of the picture. It earned him a six-year stint in prison on drugs charges.
He used his time behind bars well, making contacts like his long- standing ally John ‘The Colonel’ Cunningham and educating himself to speak several languages. A self-styled man of the world he was the first major league Irish criminal to spot the potential to do business in Amsterdam and Spain.
He even swallowed his reservations when the next generation began inviting some loose cannons from back home to share the fruits of the life he built on the Costa del Crime
He indulged his boy Daniel as he brought Liam Byrne, Freddie Thompson and Gary Hutch into the inner circle.
And when the young guns got out of hand, the man dubbed the Dapper Don tried to sort it the old school way.
After a botched hit on his son Daniel, the finger was pointing at Gary Hutch, up to then a trusted lieutenant in the business. The hotter young heads wanted payback.
In Don Christy’s worldview that meant cash. Sources believe he brokered a €200,000 compensation deal personally with Gary’s uncle, his old contemporary Gerry Hutch.
But despite the truce a hitman pumped five bullets into Gary Hutch as he chased him around the swimming pool of a Spanish apartment complex.
That led to the attack at the Regency that ended Daniel’s first attempt at boxing respectability, and left mobster David Byrne dead.
The Kinahan and the Byrne organised crimes groups would wreak a terrible revenge, leaving the streets of the capital littered with bodies.
But if the one-sided feud became an extermination, the shots fired at the Regency are still echoing today far away in the desert.
The trail of blood it started has now led all the way back to the Kinahans’ door and exposed them to the full glare of governments and police forces.