Dubliner Christy Kinahan arrested in Spain and accused of money laundering, drug dealing and arms smuggling
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 26 May 2010 14.07 BST
Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy briefs reporters after an international policing operation targeted a global crime network. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA
An Irish gangster accused of supplying drugs and guns to criminal gangs in British cities is in Spanish custody today, following an international operation involving 700 police officers.
Christy Kinahan, arrested in Spain early yesterday, used UK horseracing meetings to launder and distribute "dirty money" he earned from drug dealing and arms smuggling. He ran narcotics and weapons to criminal gangs in Liverpool, Manchester and London, Garda sources said today.
The arrest of Kinahan, 53, from Dublin, was one of a series of raids this week in Spain, the UK, Ireland, Brazil and Belgium aimed at smashing a global crime network. A total of 34 people are being held across Europe, including 10 Irish nationals in Spain, England and Ireland. Kinahan was arrested at his apartment near Marbella on the Costa del Sol.
Trevor Pearce from the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency said the raids dealt a major blow to criminals across Europe. "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," he said.
Ireland's justice minister, Dermot Ahern, said moving abroad would no longer provide a haven for criminals wanted in Ireland. "These events are evidence of the determination of those involved in law enforcement, fully supported by their governments, to take international gangs straight on," he said.
Among those also arrested in Spain were John Cunningham, 58, an armed robber and drug dealer. He was convicted in 1986 for the kidnapping of one of the heirs to the Guinness family fortune, Jennifer Guinness.
Eleven properties in Spain were searched during the early morning raids, the details of which were disclosed today. Both Cunningham and Kinahan can be held without charge for up to two years under Spanish law.
In Dublin, 29 premises were searched and one man in his 20s arrested. The places targeted include a solicitor's and accountants' offices.
Gardai are examining a number of front companies that operate in Ireland, the UK and Spain that claim to export food from the Iberian peninsula but which detectives believe are being used to transport cannabis and cocaine into Britain and Ireland.