herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Senior cartel bagman busted with €830k cash as €50k car also seized

Cartel boss Daniel Kinahan
Cartel boss Daniel Kinahan

Gardai have dealt another massive blow to the Kinahan cartel after seizing more than €800,000 in cash from one of its most trusted bagmen.

Members of the elite Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) pounced on the cartel associate as he met with a truck driver at a service station in Naas, Co Kildare, at 10pm on Friday.

A total of €829,265 in cash was recovered, while a high-powered car, worth in excess of €50,000, was also seized.

The Herald can reveal the major operation led to the arrest of a 34-year-old man.

Gardai suspect the gangland fixer was in the process of handing over the substantial sum to the truck driver, who was then due to take the cash to the continent.

Detectives believe the cash was the proceeds of crime from the Kinahan cartel's drug trafficking enterprise in Ireland.

The Kinahan associate, and the 41-year-old truck driver, who is originally from Co Sligo, were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences and taken to Naas Garda Station.

They were held for more than 24 hours before being released without charge in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Armed

In a follow-up operation, armed gardai raided the suspected bagman's west Dublin home, shortly after 2pm on Saturday.

At least a dozen armed detectives carried out searches of the home and a car belonging to the man's partner.

A number of financial documents and electronic devices were seized as part of the probe.

His partner's vehicle, a German sports car valued at around €50,000, was also seized as part of the investigation.

A senior source described the operation as a "very significant" strike against the Kinahan cartel.

"The operation is a great success for gardai for two reasons," the source said.

"It has led to more than €820,000 in cash, which would be the gang's profits, being seized.

"It has also put pressure on one of their main financial men.

"This man is a highly important cog in the cartel's organisation."

Further searches were carried out in Sligo and Kildare.

The target of the operation is one of the cartel's most trusted money launderers and has been linked to other significant cash raids in recent months.

He is also a close associate of Liam Byrne, whose brother David (33), was murdered in last year's Regency Hotel bloodbath.

The man arrested on Friday night was also a prominent mourner at the lavish funeral of David Byrne.

He was in the company of several cartel members, including Daniel Kinahan, at the Mass.

However, since the funeral, he has kept a low profile, due to the increased Garda pressure on him.

He is also closely linked to a 33-year-old man who is being investigated by gardai as part of their probe into the Kinahan gang's finances.

It is understood the two men are business associates, running a legitimate company as a front for their alleged money laundering activities.

Gardai also believe the man targeted over the weekend helps launder the cartel's cash through the horse-racing industry, particularly sulky racing.

Saturday's follow-up raids were carried out by members of the Special Crime Task Force (SCTF), a dedicated Garda unit set up following the outbreak of the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

The unit works alongside the DOCB, and is made up of 38 gardai and six divisional asset profilers.

It is the latest significant hit by DOCB against the Kinahan cartel, and follows the seizure of more than €1.5m in separate operations in recent months.

Arrested

Since the outbreak of the feud, gardai have stepped up their efforts to target Ireland's biggest drug trafficking gang.

It has led to some of its most senior members either being arrested, or forced to flee the country.

Extensive investigations from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) have also hurt the crime group financially.

Since the beginning of the feud, 12 lives have been lost, the most recent of which was in June.

Last week, senior gardai said 30 lives had been saved as a result of Garda operations targeting both feuding factions.

"They're not just ordinary run-of-the-mill interventions and the handing of forms to people, giving them notification of the fact that their life is in danger," Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll said.

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