Officers in Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus and Brazil launch dawn raids in 'major blow' to criminal activity in UK and Europe
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 25 May 2010 15.43 BST
Police today arrested 32 people across Europe in a series of raids on British and Irish citizens suspected of masterminding an international drugs and firearms network.
Officers in Spain, Ireland and the UK launched simultaneous dawn raids in what the executive director of the UK's serious organised crime agency (Soca) described as a "major blow" to criminal activity in the UK and Europe.
Spanish National police arrested 20 people, including a British national living in Malaga and suspected of being the head of the international crime syndicate.
Irish-born Christopher Kinahan, known as Christy, was arrested at his villa in the Costa del Sol, where the criminal operation is believed to be based.
The 53-year-old's sons, Daniel and Christopher Junior, were also detained.
Soca said the 20 individuals arrested in Spain were being held for questioning at a police station in Malaga.
In the UK, about 230 officers searched businesses and homes, and arrested nine men and two women.
"This scale of this joint operation by law enforcement agencies from so many countries is an indication of how prolific we think this network was," Trevor Pearce, the Soca executive director, said.
"Today's arrests will have dealt a major blow to an organised criminal business suspected of supplying drugs and guns to gangs in cities across the UK and Europe."
It is believed the trafficking gang was also running a Europe-wide operation to launder cash through businesses in Ireland, Spain and the UK, and the import-export trade.
The investigation is said to have been building momentum for about two years.
Homes and businesses in Belgium, Cyprus and Brazil were also searched, Soca said.
In Ireland, 17 homes and businesses across greater Dublin and neighbouring Co Meath were raided, and a man in his 20s arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.
Officers from the Garda national drugs unit were questioning the man at a police station in Dublin.
"Over a significant period of time, An Garda Siochana has engaged in the highest levels of co-operation and partnership with law enforcement colleagues in a number of key countries including the Spanish National police, Soca and the Belgians, culminating in today's operation," the Garda commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, said.
"The message from today's operation is clear – there is no hiding place for those who seek to bring misery and hurt to communities here in Ireland and abroad.
"If people choose to trade drugs and death across borders, police will work together across those same borders to address that challenge and disrupt criminal activity."