Kinahan mob's links to the cocaine empire of feared 'El Chapo' gang
Crime boss Christy Kinahan's links to the world's most dangerous drugs gang can be revealed by the Herald today.
Kinahan's empire is built on massive cocaine shipments smuggled from Peru across the Atlantic by naive drugs mules.
An investigation by the Herald has discovered that the Irish cartel is working directly with Mexico's deadly Sinaloa cartel which controls the Peruvian drugs trade where Michaella McCollum was caught trying to smuggle almost €2m worth of cocaine with Scottish national Melissa Reid in 2013.
Speaking to the Herald, former Peruvian anti-narcotics chief, Ricardo Soberon, said "without question" Kinahan is working with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Headed up by feared Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, who has escaped prison twice, the brutal gang have been linked to tens of thousands of murders.
Mexican gangs have taken control of the lucrative cocaine trade since the fall of the Columbian cartels in the 1990s and are now said to head the €43bn per year racket.
"The Mexicans, mainly the Sinaloas, now control the export market in Peru," said Mr Soberon.
"With the number [of drugs mules] to Spain and Holland rising there must be links to this guy [Kinahan].
"If his enterprise is as big as is believed there can be no other way," he added.
Murders by the Sinaloa cartel often involve the victims' heads being planted on spikes across the country as warnings to rivals and police informants.
The gang is also known for its use of acid for dissolving bodies.
In some cases, the bloody executions are filmed and posted on the internet as a further warning to rival gangs.
The revelation comes as an EU report this week published findings directly connecting Irish criminals to South and Central American gangs.
Compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, the report found that Irish criminal gangs have connections with drug cartels in South and Central America which facilitate the direct importation of cocaine into Ireland and Europe.
Official statistics from Peruvian authorities show that the number of drug mule interceptions leaving the country has risen exponentially since 2007 - just as Kinahan's criminal enterprises began to grow.
One of Peru's top serving anti- narcotic police officers, who cannot be identified, told the Herald that the number of drug mules leaving the country - which is one of the top producers of cocaine in the world, bound for various locations in Spain and the Netherlands - is worrying.
"It can only be linked with this criminal's (Kinahan's) rise to prominence and such a massive increase in demand from Europe, Russia and Australia.
"Between 2008 and 2013, 612 people were caught en route to Spain in Lima airport. In the same time, 248 people were picked up going to Holland.
"Another 284 were caught going to Brazil, which is an important point of connection for Europe," he added.
"Between 2008 and 2009 alone, the amount of cocaine seized at the airport jumped from 1.5 tonnes to over two tonnes."
Another police source said that mob boss Kinahan has also been linked with a man named Gerald Oropeza Lopez, Peru's answer to the Tony Montana character in the film Scarface.
"Kinahan is on the radar here for us, we think he has close ties with the Ndrangheta mafia from southern Italy through a Peruvian guy called Gerald Oropeza Lopez, who is currently jailed in Equador.
"The Italians and Lopez, with help from Mexicans, ship billions of dollars worth of cocaine out of the port of Callao every month.
"Since security ramped up at the port they have been shipping it from labs in the desert.
"If you ever fly over Peru you will see lots of big sheds in the middle of the desert.
"They are chicken farms that produce more than eggs. What is happening now is the cocaine is made here. Taken by small boats to bigger boats that are waiting ten miles off shore."