Inside the Kinahan cartel – from heroin smuggler to €1bn empire and bloody Irish gangland war that claimed 18 lives | The Sun
IT was the gangland feud that shocked a nation and launched two Irish criminal families into a bloody war that left 18 people dead.
The story of Ireland's deadliest crime gang is laid bare in the hit Irish Sun podcast The Kinahans.
The hit podcast, hosted by The Irish Sun's Damien Lane, details the rise of the Kinahan cartel and its 40-year history of violence and mayhem.
The Dublin drug cartel went from Christy Kinahan's early days as a heroin smuggler to become one of the most sophisticated crime organisations in the world, now operated by his sons Daniel and Christy Jr.
Daniel, 45, followed in his dad's footsteps to become a drug-peddling gangster, moving to Spain with other gang members in the mid-noughties to build the next generation of the empire.
And throughout Ireland the effects of the gang's drug operations and its deadly clash with the Hutch crime family are felt to this day.
The nine-part podcast series, which rocketed straight to number one in the Apple Podcast charts, tells of gang patriarch Christy Kinahan’s rise from a low-level fraudster to leader of the global crime organisation.
The brazen mob boss began preying on Dublin’s vulnerable drug users at the height of the city’s heroin epidemic in the 1980s.
His early efforts came to a sudden halt when he was arrested in September 1986, and was slapped with a relatively-lean six-year jail sentence in 1987.
But prison wouldn't stop him from working to expand his now-€1billion empire.
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He was one of the first Irish prisoners to get his own computer — and used it to brush up on the skills that would make him one of the world’s deadliest narco-terrorists.
Now, his son Daniel has stepped into his shoes as the top dog of the cartel, while also attempting to forge a legitimate career in boxing.
Today, his sons and their cronies continue to evade the US' DEA, An Garda Siochana, Interpol and a number of other police services globally.
The ruthless Kinahan family has dominated gangland crime in Ireland and across Europe for years.
But the shocking attack at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016 and a murderous feud that resulted in 18 killings thrust them into the global spotlight.
And the sheer scale of their criminal empire was laid bare in April 2022 when the US government announced a $5million bounty for information leading to the arrests of the heads of the Kinahan cartel — Christy and his sons Daniel and Christy Jr. — as well as four lieutenants.
But the feud goes much further back than that – to when a member of another of Ireland's major crime families worked for the Kinahans.
Gary Hutch, nephew of criminal figure Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, once held a senior role in the Kinahan Organised Crime Group and was close pals with Daniel.
However, relations soured between Gary and the Kinahan cartel when Spanish police – working through Operation Shovel – carried out a series of raids on the gang’s operation on the Costa Del Sol.
Gary was in Holland at the time of the raids, a coincidence that would lead to him coming to the suspicion of other gang members.
Former Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan told the podcast: “When you’re dealing with criminals. There’s such a level of paranoia between them, a lot of them use coke.
“And it is very easy to be best friends one day and to be plotting to kill somebody the next day. That’s the way they operate.”
Christy and his sons Daniel and Christopher Junior would face a total of just seven months in jail as prosecutors found it impossible to pin them down with anything concrete.
But this didn’t mean that Gary Hutch was back in the fold.
An escalation in the breakdown of the relationship came at the funeral of Jean Boylan, Christy Kinahan’s first wife and mother of Daniel and Christopher Jr.
As a procession of friends and family arrived at Mount Jerome cemetery in Harold’s Cross, south Dublin, they noticed a piece of graffiti across the road.
On a grey concrete stairwell, the words ‘Gary Hutch U Rat’ were spelled out in bright red spray paint.
Paranoia was rife on both sides of the table and the embers of a feud were starting to smoke.
Gary Hutch had decided he would attempt a hit on Daniel Kinahan’s life.
On a hot summer night in Marbella, Spain, Gary organised for an associate to wait outside of Daniel’s home as the gang were out partying, celebrating the birthday of a boxing coach.
But Kinahan had left earlier and was already inside, with the inexperienced, coked-up hitman ended up blasting innocent boxer Jamie Moore instead.
After the botched hit, Gary did a runner to Amsterdam, keeping a low profile.
And in desperation, he reached out to the one man he thought might be able to diffuse the tension – his uncle Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.
The Cartel co-author Owen Conlon tells the podcast: “I mean, if it was anybody else, he would have been hunted out and shot down.”
Eventually, a deal was thrashed out – €200,000 would be paid as compensation for the incident, or Gary would be taken out.
Plus, a punishment shooting would be carried out on Patrick Hutch, Gary’s brother – with Daniel himself pulling the trigger.
Thinking it was safe to head back to Spain, Gary returned in the summer of 2015.
But despite the belief that the whole matter was buried, Daniel Kinahan wasn't prepared to let it go.
Hutch was returning to his apartment complex in Estapona when he blasted by a hitman in Spain on September 25, 2015.
In a Dublin church 10 days later, Gary's mother pleaded at her son's funeral: “We don’t want retaliation.”
But her appeal would fall on deaf ears.
The killing sparked number of attacks on both Hutch and Kinahan gang members – in October 2015, Gary’s brother Derek ‘Del Boy’, survived an attack inside Mountjoy Prison.
In December, hitmen carried out a failed attempt to kill the pair's uncle Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch in Lanzarote.
But a revenge plan had been put in place – and that would change things forever.
On February 5, 2016, Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne was shot dead at the Regency Hotel by a heavily-armed hit team.
Daniel Kinahan had been the intended target of the attack, during a boxing weigh-in at the Dublin hotel.
But Byrne was killed in the guerilla-style assault, while his close pal and fellow cartel lieutenant Sean McGovern was hit in the leg.
Gunmen disguised as elite cops and one dressed as a woman calmly made their getaway after the infamous mob feud attack.
Just three days later, Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch's brother Eddie Hutch was murdered at his home in north inner city Dublin.
Cameras outside the innocent taximan’s inner-city Dublin home captured the masked assassin running inside to shoot him dead in cold blood in his sitting room on February 8.
It was the first of ten retaliatory killings carried out by the Kinahan cartel in the weeks that followed.
And top cops who worked to dismantle the mobs told how no one could have predicted that the murder of Gary Hutch would kickstart the violent feud that would claim 18 lives.
Former Garda Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll told The Kinahans podcast of Gary’s shooting and how it became a watershed moment in Irish gangland history: “Well, obviously, we were very much aware of of the fact that Gary have been murdered.
“But it would have been very difficult to foresee that the criminality involved and particularly the threat to life aspect was going to extend to the level that that it eventually did.”
And Eddie's funeral was the last time his brother Gerry was seen in public before he went into hiding.
The next would be when he was arrested over the murder of David Byrne and returned to Ireland in 2021.
After a trial that gripped the nation, The Monk was acquitted of Byrne's murder at the Regency Hotel, leaving the mob boss to walk free.
The podcast series culminates in The Irish Gangland Trial of the Century episode in which The Irish Sun’s Senior News Reporter Michael Doyle recounts the many twists and turns of the recent trial.
But feud fears still ripple, with Hutch, who had spent his release from custody in April meeting with family and going for walks – leaving Dublin for Lanzarote earlier in May.
Over the course of the series, The Kinahans will delve further into the gang leaders, as well as their henchmen and associates.
Future episodes will detail post-Regency events, including the loss of innocent lives caught in the feud crossfire.
Kieran McDaid, Editor of The Irish Sun, says: “Everyone knows of the Kinahan cartel, but this podcast reveals and dissects their ascent to the top of Irish gangland.
“Exhaustive investigative journalism brings new perspectives from contemporaries, the police force trying to catch them and the families of victims of their cruel reign.
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“Hosted by our very own Damien Lane, a veteran journalist with decades of experience, with input from award-winning Crime Editor Stephen Breen and reporter Michael Doyle, who was inside the courtroom for the entire Regency trial, we are sure this podcast will enthral listeners and bring them fresh revelations.”
The Kinahans is available on all popular podcast platforms including Apple and Spotify, with new episodes weekly.
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