An apartment in the Oliver Bond flats complex, where Daniel Kinahan grew up, is styled as a shrine to the gang boss and his family.
The Kinahans are long gone from Oliver Bond, but their presence is still felt. They pump a lot of money into the local community and local sports,” explained a security source, who watched Daniel progress from a trouble-making youngster to the leader of one of the most powerful drug cartels in the world.
“They still have a flat there. It’s just a shrine to the Kinahans, really, particularly Daniel’s late mother, Jean Boylan. It’s important to the Kinahans to maintain that link, to have their stamp on Oliver Bond.”
Growing up in the south inner city flats, Daniel always acted the hard man. “People were afraid of his father, so in turn his sons were shown respect. He might have lived in Oliver Bond, but Daniel grew up a privileged little rich boy,” according to the source, who carried out regular drug searches on Daniel and his younger brother, Christopher Jnr, when they were youngsters.
“He acted the hard man. He could be aggressive and confrontational when we’d search him. But he wanted for nothing because of his father’s wealth. Daniel Kinahan never knew hardship and poverty like many other criminals. He didn’t get his hands dirty either, he just had others do his bidding.”
The Kinahan Organised Crime Group (KOCG) emerged from humble beginnings. Founded by Christy Kinahan Snr and his criminal associates in Dublin’s south inner city, the up-and-coming drug dealers began to import heroin and cannabis on a major scale in the 1980s.
The law caught up with Christy Snr in the mid-80s, when he was jailed for six years for a heroin seizure in Marino. But he used his time behind bars to further his criminal pedigree rather than wallow in his misfortune.
He undertook two degrees while inside and even declined the offer of early release to complete his education.
He also learned to speak Spanish, French and Russian in prison. Within a couple of years of his release, he used this education to further his drug-dealing enterprises, forging routes into western Europe and working with Mexican and Colombian cartels as well as the Russian mafia.
Christy Snr and the boys’ mother, Jean, split up when Daniel and Christopher were young, mainly due to the so-called Dapper Don’s playboy lifestyle. Christy Snr moved out of the Oliver Bond flats while Jean remained there with their children. But the boys remained very close to their father.
By the late 1990s, Christy Snr was the leader of what was considered the most powerful drugs gang in Ireland. By that stage, his two sons were young men.
He encouraged them to get an education, to learn languages like him and to use intelligence to prosper in the underworld. Daniel, in particular, had taken a keen interest in his father’s business.
“Their father was a well-established criminal since they were boys, so it’s what they grew up with,” a separate senior security source said. “But Daniel and Christopher couldn’t have been more different. Dan was bold, mouthy, he would give lip to gardaí when we came around. He was aggressive and had a temper. He cultivated a tough-guy persona.
“Christopher was the opposite. He was very quiet, very reserved. He was a real mammy’s boy, he was very dedicated to his late mother. I always got the impression Christopher had no interest in joining the family business, but ended up involved regardless.”
It all came much more naturally to Daniel. As a young man, his propensity for violence occasionally raised its head. In 2001, he was one of five people arrested in connection with a vicious attack on two gardaí outside Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium. He was charged with assault and refused bail. In January 2002, the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
At the same time, Christopher Jnr was making attempts to go straight. He got a job at the Civic Offices in Dublin and worked issuing driving licences. But it didn’t last long.
With his family links to crime, it was a national security issue that he could have access to sensitive information, so he was sacked. All the while, Daniel was chomping at the bit to take over his father’s business.
“The two boys are chalk and cheese, but remain very close,” the source added. “They share a deep bond over their love for boxing.
“Daniel was very ambitious and wanted to take over the family business and expand it, whereas his younger brother had far less interest. Christy Snr was very smart and taught his boys everything they know. Without him, Daniel would be nothing.”
Although known for his intellect, Christy Snr also has a ruthless streak and never forgot those who crossed him. Seventeen years after he was jailed for heroin dealing in the mid-1980s, he exacted revenge on the man he blamed for getting him locked up.
In 2003, Raymond Salinger was shot dead in a Dublin pub on the orders of Christy Snr, gardaí believe. It was the Kinahan cartel’s first murder — but there were many more to come.
In 2001, the Kinahan patriarch relocated permanently to Spain. He began sourcing massive drug shipments from Colombian, Spanish and north African cartels for sale to Irish criminals. Several years later, his two sons would follow their father to Spain.
Christy Snr came to the attention of police for his wholesale drugs operation, and over the next 15 years was jailed in the Netherlands and Belgium for possession of cocaine and money laundering.
By 2007, Daniel Kinahan had a more hands-on involvement in the day-to-day running of his father’s operations and was now taking over the reins. He became a key target of Operation Shovel when gardaí recovered 1.5 tonnes of cannabis in Kildare in 2008.
The garda investigation turned into a major international operation, with police from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands later being joined by agencies in the Middle East and South America. This culminated in a series of raids, followed by arrests, here as well as in Britain and Spain. Christy Kinahan and his sons were among those detained by the Spanish police.
A source said: “Believe it or not, the 2008 drugs raid in Kildare was really the beginning of the end for the cartel, rather than the [Hutch] feud itself.
“It made police forces worldwide sit up and pay attention to the scale of the operation that was being run by Christy Snr and his son Daniel, and police worldwide haven’t stopped paying attention since.
“The Kinahans had set up food companies and started importing foodstuffs from Spain. Once they had established a record of having imported shipments of food into warehouses in Ireland on vehicles registered to their company, they began smuggling drugs on those food export runs. It was sophisticated and had Christy Snr written all over it.”
Despite around 30 people being arrested as part of Operation Shovel, the only charges brought as part of the investigation related to passport fraud.
Regardless, every police agency in the world now knew who the Kinahans were and how massive their drug trafficking operation was.
As their illegal enterprise continued to expand, so did the Kinahans’ propensity to fall out with other criminals. Christy Snr always made a point of trying to stay out of gangland feuds where possible.
“He realised the pointlessness of them,” said a retired garda officer who investigated him over several decades in Dublin. “He knew it was bad for business.
“But if you’re the head of an international crime gang, eventually if someone crosses you, you must react, or else you look weak.”
By 2015, a major problem emerged within the cartel and Gary Hutch, a nephew of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, was shot dead. Gary Hutch worked with the cartel, moving large quantities of drugs, but fell out with them when a money-laundering deal went sour. In 2018, a Spanish police officer told a court in Marbella it was Daniel Kinahan who ordered the murder of Gary Hutch. This was done with the blessing of his father, sources said.
The Monk had no choice but to respond, but no one quite anticipated the audacious nature of the retaliation. It caught gardaí and the Kinahan cartel completely off guard.
In 2016, Hutch associates disguised as gardaí burst into the Regency Hotel on Dublin’s northside during a boxing weigh-in and opened fire with AK47s sourced from the North.
The unprecedented attack was captured by newspaper photographers, but no gardaí were monitoring the event, despite the fact it was known Daniel Kinahan would be present.
Remarkably, only one life was lost, that of senior Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne. Daniel was the main target, but managed to flee through a fire escape.
The murder was a pivotal moment in the feud. Not long after the Regency attack, Daniel relocated permanently to Dubai, joining his father and Christy Jnr.
Several years of bloodshed followed, mainly in Dublin, with 18 people murdered, but the Hutch-Kinahan feud is now essentially over.
The Kinahans were responsible for the vast majority of the killings, and rival gang leader Gerry Hutch is now in prison awaiting trial on murder charges over the Regency attack.
This weekend in Dubai, the Hutch crime gang could not be farther from the minds of the highest echelons of the Kinahan cartel. In seismic developments last week, the US offered $5m (€4.6m) rewards for key information leading to the arrests of the cartel leaders.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) — a branch of the US Treasury Department — has named Christy Snr and his two sons as the top tier of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group, and is attempting to hit them with a range of sanctions. Daniel is named as the leader of its drug-trafficking operations while his younger brother oversees the property element of the enterprise.
“They are running out of places to hide from the police internationally and they know it,” a senior source said. There’s speculation in the criminal fraternity that they might just come home and fight any charges gardaí come up with, rather than running the risk of the Americans coming for them. If the Yanks get them, there’s no doubt they will spend the rest of their lives in federal prison.”