Kinahan cartel's associate held in €100m drug bust
An associate of cartel boss Daniel Kinahan has been arrested in relation to a huge cocaine seizure worth almost €100m.
The man, aged in his mid 30s, was detained after Spanish police uncovered a staggering 1,200kg of the drug buried in an underground hideout earlier this month.
He is originally from Dublin's south-inner city, but has spent most of his time in Spain and the UK over the last decade.
This man has links to the cartel through his association with gang boss Daniel Kinahan (40).
Three British nationals and two Spaniards were initially arrested on November 10 at locations in Granada and Guipúzcoa.
It later emerged that one of the men travelling on a UK passport was in fact the Kinahan associate. This individual has a number of previous convictions for road traffic offences and minor drugs possession, but has not been convicted of serious criminal offences.
A source last night said the man was considered "a low- level operator" who had been based mainly in the Midlands of the UK. A spokesman for the Policia Nacional, who coordinated the operation, said that it targeted an international drug trafficking gang which is one of the most active in Europe.
The lengthy operation has been going on for over a year, and led to what is one of the largest seizures of cocaine in Spain.
The seized drugs have an estimated street value of around €96m in Ireland.
At the beginning of this month, police placed a British truck driver under surveillance as he made his way from France through to the south of Spain.
His articulated lorry was then tracked travelling east from the Costa del Sol to the cities of Murcia and Valencia, where it picked up cargo and headed north.
On November 3, police decided to swoop as the haul was unloaded in Almunecar. They arrested the HGV driver and two other men, all carrying British identity documents. One of these trio was later found to be the Irishman.
The cargo turned out to be more than 531kg of cocaine, which tested as up to 80pc pure.
Wet mud found on the packaging led investigators back to the Basque Country, where another massive 678kg haul of coke was buried 'Colombian- style' in an underground cache at Zarautz. Images of the bust released by authorities show police using diggers to unearth a number of plastic containers in which the cocaine was stashed.
"The network being investigated was one of the most active in Europe and used professional truck drivers who transported the hidden drug among legal goods, taking advantage of the ordinary road transport routes that they used for legitimate activity," a Policia Nacional spokesman said.
Just two weeks ago, the Kinahan cartel's international money-laundering and drug-dealing business was dealt a massive blow by gardai and Dutch police in an operation which resulted in €10m worth of drugs being seized.
Detectives discovered a "Bitcoin farm", encrypted phones, computers and €10m worth of drugs across Ireland and Holland. In total, 10 people were arrested - eight men in Holland, including one of Christy Kinahan Snr's most trusted lieutenants and two Limerick criminals.