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Saturday 3 December 2016

Two brothers shot dead six months apart as part of bitter gang cash row

The Kinahan cartel are one of Europe's most feared drugs trafficking gangs and they do not tolerate money being stolen from them. In part one of a special report, Ken Foy details how two key gang members paid the ultimate price when the ruthless mob became suspicious of their activities

The body of Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh is taken away from the bar where he was murdered
The body of Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh is taken away from the bar where he was murdered
Shot dead: Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh
The scene of the shooting on Church Avenue, inset, Paul Kavanagh

Heartbroken Paul Kavanagh carried his brother Gerard's coffin at his funeral on September 22 last year.

He had no idea that little more than six months later he too would be brutally shot dead as part of the same internal cash feud.

Both brothers were from Drimnagh in south Dublin, a suburb that has seen more than its fair share of gangland violence over the past 15 years.

READ MORE: From humble roots in inner city, how Christy Kinahan became Costa top dog

However, neither Paul or Gerard - who was nicknamed 'Hatchet' - became heavily involved in the notorious and bloody local feud which centred around rival gang bosses Brian Rattigan and 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.

Instead, they worked for a much more professional outfit - the international cartel that supplies drugs shipments to both these warring factions as well as most other organised crime groupings in the State.

This is the Christy Kinahan crime network - a syndicate that's rarely involved in feuds with other crime gangs.

Most gangs here are simply too terrified to take them on because of their massive firepower and resources.

A bloody example of what happens if you go head-to-head with the cartel was the gruesome gun murders last year of Ballymun criminals Michael 'Mad Mickey' Devoy and John O'Regan.

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Shot dead: Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh

The ill-fated pair were suspected of involvement in a botched assassination attempt on key Kinahan gang figure Greg Lynch in October 2013.

The Kavanagh brothers were considered key enforcers and money collectors for the Kinahan cartel before a bitter dispute over cash that a Drimnagh drugs trafficker was attempting to pay back to the gang.

The cartel became suspicious that the Kavanagh brothers - and in particular Paul - were collecting cash from the trafficker but not passing on the money to the crime syndicate.

The mistrust over the brothers' involvement in taking those payments came just months after 'Hatchet' Kavanagh was suspected of stealing a drugs shipment from a Liverpool based gang.

For the first time in years, there were deep internal tensions in one of Europe's most prolific drugs gangs and this could only lead to one thing.

Danger

Saturday, September 6, 2014, was a typically sunny evening on Spain's Costa del Crime.

'Hatchet' (44) - a convicted drug dealer who built up a fearsome reputation for collecting drug debts with his sidekick Paul Rice in Dublin over the years - arrived at Harmons Irish Bar in Elviria a to meet an associate.

It's believed that he had no idea of the danger that he was in as he walked into the pub.

Two gunmen shot Kavanagh nine times on the terrace of the bar before making their getaway in a BMW X3 which they later torched outside a supermarket about five minute's away.

Spanish police are thought to have been unable to recover any fingerprint evidence from the murder weapons found in the killers' stolen car, after it was doused in petrol and set alight.

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The scene of the shooting on Church Avenue, inset, Paul Kavanagh

The hitmen left 29 holes between exit and entry wounds in the mobster's body, according to an autopsy.

The savage nature of the shooting spree meant that Hatchets body was mutilated with bullet wounds.

The murder occurred at a time of high tension in the Costa del Crime, coming only a month after former European light-middleweight champion Jamie Moore was shot in the Spanish resort of Marbella. That shocking incident happened outside a villa owned by Daniel Kinahan - international crime boss Christy Kinahan's son.

Former Manchester boxer Moore had been training Matthew Macklin (33) at Macklin's MGM gym in Puerto Banus and the attempt on his life is widely considered to have been a case of mistaken identity.

The feared Kinahan syndicate are boxing fans and are fans of Macklin, who has no involvement in crime. Senior members of the mob are regularly seen at his fights.

The mobsters have commonly bought ringside seats at Macklin's fights and have used the events in the past for crime summits.

After the attempted murder of Jamie Moore and Hatchet Kavanagh's killing, Daniel Kinahan reportedly sought the protection of the authorities in Spain.

In a bizarre move, Daniel's lawyer Javier Arias revealed he would be asking the Spanish courts to provide him with armed police protection.

Mr Arias said it was because of the shooting of Moore that he would be asking for protection for his client and not because of the killing of Kavanagh whom "he had never met".

"In spite of all the newspaper reports about the links between Gerard Kavanagh and the Kinahan family, Daniel doesn't know the man killed at the weekend and has never met him," the lawyer added.

"The reason I will be asking for protection for Daniel is because of Jamie Moore's shooting.

"He was shot in Daniel's garden and Daniel was at the property at the time.

"Daniel wasn't injured but you're obviously going to have a well-founded fear for your life if someone is shot inside your property.

"The incident shows there's a very clear risk to Daniel's safety.

"My application will be made in writing. I have no idea how long it will take to resolve."

Almost eleven months have passed and it is not believed that Daniel Kinahan has any armed police protection.

Gardai now believe the Gerard Kavanagh murder was sanctioned by the Kinahan cartel and probably carried out by foreign criminals.

There have been no arrests in the case.

Murder

Last month it was reported that the Marbella court heading the investigation had shelved its inquiry because "the culprits' identity was not known".

"The closure is a provisional one based on the current conditions and the case can be reactivated if new evidence comes to light," a court worker said.

"But this decision is recognition that the case has reached a stalemate and in the present circumstances the judge feels it is at a dead end."

This has been a usual conclusion to the murder of an Irish gangster in Spain with a long-held perception that local police do not fully investigate the murders of foreign criminals.

That said, there have been no arrests here in relation to the fatal shooting of Hatchet's younger brother Paul.

The 27-year-old was killed in a ruthless attack as he sat in a Volkswagen Passat on Church Avenue in Drumcondra at 11.30am on March 26 last.

The younger Kavanagh brother is believed to have been under surveillance by a two-man hit squad who riddled him with bullets.

It quickly emerged that Paul Kavanagh's fate was sealed after a Drimnagh drugs trafficker was summoned to a meeting with senior members of the Kinahan mob.

Trafficker

At the meeting, it emerged that the drugs trafficker had been giving money to Kavanagh to pay back to the crime syndicate but Kavanagh in turn was not passing it onto his bosses.

The trafficker was able to show the gang henchmen damning texts which revealed that he had been paying the money back and had been handing envelopes of cash to Paul Kavanagh for a number of months.

With his older brother 'Hatchet' murdered for the same kind of activities, it is understood that the cartel moved quickly and Paul Kavanagh's daylight execution was meticulously planned.

It has yet to be confirmed whether the killing was carried out by the same criminals who were at the centre of the Dublin murder of the Kinahan cartel's former associate Eamon 'The Don' Dunne in 2010, but this is a major line of enquiry.

The Don's high-profile murder in a Cabra pub is also suspected of being sanctioned by the Kinahan cartel because of the heat and publicity that Dunne was bringing onto their operations.

Last month at Dublin Coroner's Court, the opening of the inquest into Paul Kavanagh's death heard from Detective Inspector Gus Keane who explained that gardai have opened up 680 lines of inquiry into the murder and taken 350 statements. "This is an ongoing investigation and a lot of work is going into it," he said.

He requested a six-month adjournment of the inquest to allow time for gardai to continue their inquiries.

Paul Kavanagh's funeral in April of this year was attended by a large crowd, including UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

He is understood to be friendly with the dead man's professional boxer nephew, Gerard's son, Jamie Kavanagh.

"The day his brother Gerard died a part of Paul died too," the congregation at his funeral was told by a family representative.

It was very noticeable that senior Kinahan gang henchmen, including Greg Lynch and Paul Rice, stayed away from the funeral and virtually no-one travelled from Spain.

The absence of Tallaght criminal Rice (45) raised a number of eye-brows especially because he had been considered Gerard Kavanagh's best friend and had carried the murdered gangster's coffin six months earlier.

Dozens of armed gardai were involved in a major operation against Rice on October 9, 2014, shortly after Hatchet's funeral, at a time when his debt collection business for the cartel was said to be booming.

Tensions were high during the raid at Rice's Tallaght home but he was not arrested during the operation.

Criminals

Rice is one of the country's most feared criminals but his most serious conviction was when he was jailed for 10 years in July 1995 after pleading guilty to the robbery of a bank in which shots were fired.

In the weeks after Paul Kavanagh's death it emerged that Rice had entered into a dispute with the cartel and had been spotted in the company of rival Scottish criminals in the Costa-Del-Crime. It is not yet known what the full consequences of his split with the cartel will be.

In the meantime, it has been business as usual for the international crime syndicate who are one of Europe's most notorious mobs.

Last month, a number of senior gangsters travelled back to Dublin from Spain for a boxing tournament.

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