herald

Friday 24 January 2020

Gardai vow to smash all would-be Kinahan crime gang successors

Garda John O’Driscoll
Garda John O’Driscoll

Senior gardai have vowed to sustain their relentless campaign against organised crime gangs to prevent the emergence of a Kinahan Mark II mobster.

Officers say they are determined to continue their crackdown on the Kinahan crime cartel and dismantle other gangs led by would-be successors.

As a result of intelligence, daily surveillance and garda interventions, there have been no murders related to the Kinahan group in the past 18 months.

However, the assistant garda commissioner in charge of special crime operations, John O'Driscoll says there will be no let up in their push against the gangs in the new year.

He told the Herald the force had to be ready for new challenges, such as the growth in cyber crime, and the increasing diversity of the gangs' activities.

Mr O'Driscoll also warned of the dangers of corruption that had already been posed in other jurisdictions through the growth of influence and abuse of power by crime lords.

"Money is power and there is no end to how that can be abused," he said.

Since the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (Docb) was established in March 2015, it has seized illicit drugs with a street value of €168m, with €21m worth of that haul confiscated this year alone.

Docb has also seized a total of 109 firearms, comprised of 11 machine guns, 66 handguns, seven assault rifles, five rifles, eight shotguns and a dozen stun guns as well as 3,380 rounds of ammunition.

All of those firearms were recovered in this jurisdiction but another couple of guns, believed linked to the Kinahan outfit, were also seized in the UK.

Officers also confiscated €10.8m in cash, of which €2.5m was seized in 2019.

Surveillance

Armed gardai have inltervened 73 times in incidents where there was a serious threat to life, as a result of either intelligence, surveillance or regular patrolling.

Mr O'Driscoll pointed to the importance of the illicit drugs market as a major source of income for organised crime gangs and noted that an estimated €30bn was being spent annually at retail level within the EU.

Analysts reckon that 31pc of that money is being spent on cocaine, 25pc on heroin, 39pc on cannabis and 5pc on amphetamines and MDMA.

A recent report from Europol showed how the violence and corruption, which had been long seen in drug-producing countries, was now increasingly evident within the EU.

The past year, according to Mr O'Driscoll, continued to show the importance of international co-operation and intelligence sharing and the role it played in helping the gardai to dismantle organised crime gangs.

The gangs had widened their activities from drug trafficking and related crimes to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as moving into emerging markets in online trading of illicit goods.

He also pointed out that the global aspect of transnational crime had risen to unprecedented levels as gangs availed of new technologies.

He said the gardai planned to expand its cyber-crime unit in the new year and its national protective services bureau would continue to tackle online child exploitation and child porn as well as sexual crimes and domestic abuse.

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