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US offers reward of $5 million for information on Kinahan gang

Daniel Kinahan has been named in the Irish courts as the head of one of Europe's most prominent drug cartels
Cate McCurry, PA

US authorities are offering a $5 million dollar reward for information on the Irish Kinahan crime gang that leads to the arrest and conviction of its leaders.

It comes as a US government department imposed sanctions against seven senior members of the Kinahan crime gang as part of a bid to target their financial operations.

A major unprecedented joint action by American, Irish and British authorities have targeted the international cartel as part of its efforts to dismantle it.

US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin said the American authorities were offering the $5 million dollar reward (£3.8 million/€4.6 million) for information that will lead to the "financial destruction" of the Kinahan gang or the arrest and conviction of its leaders, Christy Kinahan Snr and/or his sons Daniel and Christopher Jnr.

Also named and sanctioned by the US department of the treasury's office of foreign assets control (OFAC) were Kinahan associates Sean McGovern, Ian Dixon, Bernard Clancy and John Morrissey.

A number of businesses were also identified as being associated with the Kinahan operation.

Speaking at an event at Dublin City Hall, Ms Cronin said the gang has committed "heinous" crimes around the world, including murder and the trafficking of firearms.

"Today, the United States department of state is please to announce a reward of up to $5 million for information that will lead to the financial destruction or the arrest and conviction of the leaders," Ms Cronin added.

"We want to send a clear message to trans-national organised crime groups that the United States will continue to work with its partners and make every effort to disrupt their operations and bring their leaders to justice, no matter where they are."

Speaking at the event, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the Kinahan gang has amassed wealth of more than one billion euro through its criminal enterprise.

Mr Harris warned senior gang members that they can run but "can't hide from justice forever", adding that they will eventually run low on money and friends.

Mr Harris added: "The Kinahan organised crime gang started life as south inner-city Dublin drug dealers but has grown over the decades to become a trans-national crime cartel involved in a wide-range of criminality that it is estimated has generated over one billion euro for them.

"All of it leaving countless victims of violence and addiction across the world in their wake.

"While most of the Kinahan leadership is now behind bars, it is true that some of the apex of the organisation is located in jurisdictions without extradition treaties, such as the UAE.

"They can run, but they can't hide from justice for ever. From today they will be running low on money and friends.

"I am confident, particularly with the strength of purpose demonstrated by all the partners here today, that those senior members of the Kinahan gang will be brought to justice sooner rather than later."

Matt Horne, deputy director of investigations at the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the gang has been responsible for more than a dozen murders.

He said the cartel had gone to extreme lengths to ensure they go undetected by law enforcement.

"They used trusted associates to run the day-to-day operations," Mr Horne said, adding they use violence, intimidation and threats to carry out their activities.

He said the sanctions will cut the gang off from the global financial system, which he said will be a "key blow" to the Kinahans.

"This group thought they were untouchable but this shows that we will pursue every opportunity available to disrupt their criminal activities and we will not stop here," he warned.

In a lengthy statement, the US treasury office said that the Kinahan crime gang is established in Ireland, the UK, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.

It described their operations as a "significant transnational criminal organisation".

It said the gang emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the most "powerful organised crime group" operating in Ireland.

Since then, Irish courts have said that the Kinahan gang is a "murderous organisation" involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms.

The Kinahans also frequently use Dubai as a facilitation hub for its "illicit activities".

Since February 2016, the criminal gang has been involved in a gang war with another group in Ireland and Spain, resulting in numerous murders, including of two innocent bystanders.

Wendy Woolcock, special agent in charge of special operations division at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said the agency will "relentlessly pursue" the Kinahan gang, specifically its senior members.

"For years the Kinahan's has used intimidation, influence and money to destroy towns by pouring drugs on to the streets," Ms Woolcock said.

"The prey for profit from the addicted while living lavish lifestyles in Dubai."

The action is the result of close collaboration between OFAC, the DEA, the US department of state, An Garda Siochana, the NCA and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation.

US under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian E Nelson said: "The Kinahan organised crime group smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money-laundering.

"Criminal groups like the KOCG (Kinahan organised crime group) prey on the most vulnerable in society and bring drug-related crime and violence, including murder, to the countries in which they operate."

OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all transactions by US people or people within, or transiting, the United States that involve any property or interests in property of those who have been sanctioned.

As a result of the action, all property and interests in property of the named gang members and their businesses that are in the US or in the possession or control of US people will be blocked and reported to OFAC.

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