Christy Kinahan, nicknamed “The Irish Godfather”, was arrested yesterday in Malaga, Spain.
The criminal suspected to be the head of a vast international drugs, guns and money laundering empire was arrested as part of planned police raids taking place across Ireland, Britain and Europe.
He was arrested at his mansion in Spain worth $7.3 million. Kinahan last came into the spotlight in May 2008 when he was arrested by the Belgian federal police force.
The criminal mastermind has connections to Turkish drug gangs based out of Morocco who deal with heroin, cannabis and laboratories in Holland who deal with ecstasy and amphetamine.
Kinahan is also believed to have bankrolled a bet-to-lose horse-racing scam. In 2004 Kieren Fallon, a top jockey, and others were acquitted of the crime at trial in the Old Bailey, London.
The 53-year-old crime boss is currently wanted within several European states for suspected money laundering however he has lived on mainland Europe since 2003 which has caused difficulties in putting him on trial.
“This is an extensive and focused investigation into organized criminal activity, targeting drug trafficking, money-laundering and firearms crime,” said Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy.
Trevor Pearce, Soca executive director said “The scale of this joint operation by law enforcement agencies from so many countries is an indication of how prolific we think this network was.
“Today’s arrests will have dealt a major blow to an organized criminal business suspected of supplying drugs and guns to gangs in cities across the UK and Europe.
“It highlights Soca’s role in coordinating complex investigations into organized crime, which always has an international dimension.
“We also believe this network has been offering a global investment service, ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds of dirty cash into offshore accounts, companies, and property on behalf of criminals. A financial investigation is already under way.”
The Kinahans were among 20 people arrested in Spain. More than 750 police officers were involved in the raid which took place in Dublin, London and Malaga. Properties in Belgium, Cyprus and Brazil were also searched.
In Dublin a man in his twenties was arrested and questioned while 17 homes and businesses were raided in the city and County Meath.
Another Irishman, John Cuningham, was arrested. Cunningham had previously been convicted of the 1986 kidnapping of the Irish heiress, Jennifer Guinness.
The international raids took two years to prepare from surveillance and monitoring finances to massive fraud inquiries.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said “I want to commend the work of An Garda Síochana [Irish police] and their colleagues in Spain, the United Kingdom and Belgium for the carefully planned operation against organized crime which has culminated in a wide range of law enforcement actions in a number of countries today.
“The fact is that no border will protect those involved in organized crime. Today’s events are evidence of the determination of those involved in law enforcement, fully supported by their governments, to take international gangs straight on.”