Kinahan gang in crisis following false passport charges
Neil Leslie 6 hrs ago
Kelly Ripa reveals guilt over children’s heartfelt 50th birthday message – ‘I was… ‘The real heroes in fight against COVID-19 are women’ – Ellen Johnson… © Padraig O’Reilly Christy Kinahan wearing white rose,shades and looking directly at camera
IT was 4.30am on May 25, 2010, and another scorching dawn was breaking over the gangster’s paradise that is Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Ireland’s most successful crime boss slumbered peacefully in the bed of an Estepona mansion fit for the head of a criminal cartel.
Christy Kinahan Snr may even have been dreaming of the half billion euro property and business empire he was suspected of building from the proceeds of shipping drugs back to his home streets in Dublin.
But he was about to get a rude awakening.
Seconds later, his fortified front door imploded from the impact of a police battering ram.
Moments after that he was face-down on his bedroom floor at gunpoint in his underwear.
It may not have been the wake-up call the Dapper Don expected. But it was one he needed.
As he was frog-marched into a Spanish cell with his sons Daniel and Christopher, right hand man John Cunningham and dozens of his alleged associates, he had time to ponder where he had slipped up.
A Spanish judge dubbed his cartel “The Irish Mafia”.
A worldwide web of properties and businesses was exposed under investigation.
For prosecutors it was the start of what would ultimately be a fruitless 10-year search for the “Irish Mafia’s” millions.
But the man they claimed was at the head of it was already plotting his next moves as soon as he was bailed.
From the early days of the investigation he was convinced there was no trail the police could follow that would bring him down.
He also knew there was no equivalent of the Criminal Assets Bureau in Spain.
For the Kinahan Cartel, Operation Shovel would also prove a calling card to the major league of European crime.
As the decade wore on, police suspect the gang grew as a criminal clearing house for other mobs wanting to wash drug cash.
But if he was confident he could beat the rap, Kinahan also realised it had exposed weaknesses in his armour.
His carefree days in the Spanish sunshine were coming to an end.
For a publicity-shy gang boss this new notoriety was bad for business.
He became paranoid and surrounded his haunts in Puerto Banus with henchmen and spotters.
He developed an obsession with encrypted phones to keep prying police ears at bay. And in what would prove his most fateful move, he took a back seat from the cartel’s drug dealing operations.
His son Daniel – named in the High Court for his links to the drug dealing empire – would step up instead.
And with that, a whole younger generation of Dublin criminals arrived on Don Christy’s doorstep that were about to make his Operation Shovel problems seem like a picnic.
They may have been drawn to the Costas by the shock and awe of those Spanish Guardia Civil videos displaying a €1million worth of motors in Kinahan’s underground garage.© Collins Dublin Daniel Kinahan
Among the new arrivals who flocked around Daniel was an ambitious and volatile armed robber who came from Dublin criminal royalty. Gary Hutch had his entry fee to join the party – the proceeds of a multi-million cash heist in the capital which he wanted to invest in the family business.
But the young breed was trigger happy. Fallouts were common.
Hitman Paddy Doyle and Gerard “Hatchet” Kavanagh both died in a hail of cartel bullets in Spain as disputes were settled ruthlessly. And even those vicious killings were about to pale alongside what was to come.
Feeling ripped off, Gary Hutch launched an ill-fated bid to murder Daniel Kinahan.
It was to be the trigger to the bloodiest spiral of violence the Irish underworld has ever witnessed.
Christy Kinahan Snr tried to sort the bad blood the old school way by agreeing a pay-off with a senior member of the Hutch clan.
It looked like the deal had worked until Gary Hutch was blasted to death in a Spanish apartment complex in September 2015.
When the Hutch gang unleashed its bloody revenge in the Regency hotel five months later, the Dapper Don knew his time was up.
With bloody reprisals in Dublin and Spain, he was a sitting target.
By now Operation Shovel had rumbled on for five years and was only an irritant.
Much of his time was being spent in the Middle East and Hong Kong where he was reinventing himself as a high-flying investor.
So the move to Dubai was an easy decision. The heavily-policed state is run on surveillance.
With his money and connections, Kinahan moved his family and his operation to the super-rich emirate.
They have spent the last three years there trying to become legitimate, Daniel as a global boxing powerbroker and his father as a jetsetting international businessman.
In Dublin the feud has been largely waged by the Byrne organised crime group while the West Dublin mob known as “The Family” has taken the mantle of the country’s biggest drug dealing outfit. But now the irritant that was a stone in his shoe has come back to niggle Don Christy again.
The Kinahans beat all the serious money laundering and organised crime raps investigated by Operation Shovel, but Christy Snr has been ordered to return to Spain to face a charge of travelling on a false passport.
While there is no extradition between the UAE and Ireland, in Spain a European Arrest Warrant could reach him from Dublin where tough new laws on those who direct organised crime have just been passed.
Perhaps more chillingly, it will force him to show himself to his enemies.
As he sleeps in his Dubai bolthole tonight, the old Don’s dreams might still be troubled by that 2010 Wake up call?