mob meltdown | 

How the Kinahan cartel’s drug trafficking empire crumbled in 2022

‘The only way the Kinahans will have a worse year than 2022 is when they are arrested and charged’

Eamon DillonSunday World

There have been set-backs in the past but the only way the Kinahans will have a worse year than 2022 is when they are arrested and charged as international drug barons.

It started off so well in sunny Dubai where Daniel Kinahan continued his reputational sports-washing campaign with a series of photos posted on Twitter.

Posing as the ultimate boxing promoter and fixer, the man who looked out for fighters and fought their corner, Daniel looked as if he had at least convinced himself.

Beside him, on different occasions in February and March were heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, promoter Sam Jones and a Pakistani provincial sports minister Rai Taimoor Khan Batti.

Daniel Kinahan and Tyson Fury

Another was World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman Saldivar who later posted online how Daniel is “labelled as a person linked to criminal groups, thus creating prejudice against a large part of the world boxing community".

The only cause for concern in March was the sudden extradition from Dubai of Camorra boss and super-cartel partner Raffaela Imperiale back to his native Italy to face serious criminal charges.

But right up until 16 April it was business as normal when the head coach of the boxing firm Daniel Kinahan helped to start up, MTK Global posted an image of himself posing with cartel boss.

Two days earlier the promotion company had denied links any links to the drugs cartel boss.

The photograph was posted on Twitter by coach Danny Vaughan, the husband of former MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan.

(from l to r) Danny Vaughan, Sunny Edwards, Daniel Kinahan, 'Falcon' Waseem and Grant Smith

Vaughan can be seen standing proudly with Daniel Kinahan, boxers Sunny Edwards and 'Falcon' Waseem and trainer Grant Smith in a reception area in Dubai.

None of the four men standing in the image with Kinahan have any involvement in criminality.

But within a few days the game had changed forever at an unprecedented press conference held at the Dublin City Hall hosted by the gardaí.

Also present were members of the UK’s National Crime Agency, Europol and a high-powered US delegation including the Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin.

Not only were Christopher Kinahan sr, his sons Daniel and Christy jr placed on a sanctions list, a $5 million reward leading to their arrest was also announced.

Kinahans reward

Their enablers in Dubai and Spain, Sean McGovern, Bernard Clancy, Ian Dixon and Johnn Morrissey along with a number of firms connected to them were also sanctioned.

One former member of the US Office of Foreign Asset Confiscation told the Sunday World the sizeable rewards suggested there are sealed criminal indictments waiting for the Kinahans in the US.

It wasn’t long before MTK announced it was closing down, even though it had not been sanctioned and it also emerged hundreds of people, many involved in professional boxing, were now on a US ‘no-fly’ list.

Further exposure by Malawi based Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) showed how Christy Kinahan had posed as an aviation consultant in a bid to set up a network of planes to transfer cocaine closer to Europe.

There were more exposures from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which highlighted how Kinahan senior had tried to buy a fleet of second-hand military aircraft from Egypt.

From the same cache of leaked documents, the ICIJ revealed how Kinahan had tried and failed to relocate in Zimbabwe with his long-term partner businesswoman Nassy Yildirim.

In November it then emerged that the investigation into the super cartel had been going full steam with the announcement of several arrests including that of alleged mob boss Edin Gacinin.

It leaves the Kinahans as the only senior members still free after they were first identified by the US Drug Enforcement administration in 2017.

The super cartel is suspected of shipping a third of all cocaine into Europe in recent years, worth €30 billion, according to some estimates.

Europol announced Operation Desert Light, making the point that there was now much closer co-operation with the United Arab Emirates.

Christy Kinahan Snr tried to buy Buffalo aircraft from the Egyptian air force

One of those arrested at the behest of the Spanish authorities was Ryan James Hale who they alleged was the Kinahan key man in that country.

They described the criminal network as having two parts, one for shipping cocaine and the other for laundering the money.

Anthony Alfredo Martínez Meza was also arrested in Dubai as part of the international police operation targeting Europe’s super-cartel.

Martínez is suspected of being the connection who arranged to get Colombian cocaine shipped into Europe.

To top it all off, the year’s end came the news in December the Kinahans’ old pal Raffaele Imperiale, after spending 2022 in custody, had become a ‘pentito.’

He has promised to tell the Neapolitan Anti-Mafia magistrates everything he knows from over twenty years as part of the Neapolitan Camorra – which is not good news for the Kinahans.

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