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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John Scheerhout

Former Rochdale doorman branded Kinahan cartel 'enforcer' in US government sanctions against infamous Irish cartel

A notorious Greater Manchester-raised expat is among seven alleged members of the Kinahan cartel sanctioned by the US government. John Francis Morrissey, aka Johnny Morrissey, is the Irish gang's 'enforcer' and money launderer who 'facilitates international drug shipments' from south America into Europe for the gang, according to the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Said to have worked for the cartel for 'several years', the M.E.N. understands Ireland-born Morrissey, 62, was raised in Rochdale and spent much of his early life earning a fearsome reputation in Manchester before moving to Marbella in Spain. A Glasgow-based vodka company he is linked to has also been designated as part of the US sanctions.

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Morrissey is the 'brand ambassador' for Nero Drinks but 'controls and operates' the company through the primary shareholder, his wife, according to the US Treasury. She is 'used as a frontperson for his interests'. Nicola Margaret Morrissey, 46, is listed as the company's sole director, according to Companies House.

The OFAC states Johnny Morrissey 'has given a significant portion of the business' to Daniel Kinahan, said to run 'day-today operations' for the gang, to 'compensate for loads of drugs seized by law enforcement'. Dubai-based Daniel Kinahan has also been sanctioned

Kinahan 'instructed' other gang members to send money to serving prisoners including one serving time for murder, according to the US Treasury.

"Daniel Kinahan, who sources large quantities of cocaine from South America, plays an integral part in organizing the supply of drugs in Ireland, and is attempting to facilitate the importation of cocaine into the United Kingdom. Daniel Kinahan is known to have used false identity documents," said OFAC.

The seven alleged members of the Kinahan cartel sanctioned by the US Treasury (US Treasury)

He has advised boxer Tyson Fury in the past but the champion heavyweight has said he now has 'absolutely zero' business with the alleged crime boss.

Daniel Kinahan's brother Christopher and their father Christy Kinahan Snr, the alleged founder of the cartel, and Kinahan associates Sean McGovern, Ian Dixon and Bernard Clancy, together with Morrissey, have all been sanctioned.

US authorities are offering a $5m reward 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.

After the US announced the sanctions at a launch in Dublin, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the Kinahan gang has amassed wealth of more than one billion euros through its criminal enterprise.

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."

US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin, speaking at Dublin City Hall (Niall Carson/PA)

Since February 2016, the gang has been involved in a 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 Kinahans 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."

Johnny Morrisey is understood to have moved to Holland for a while but has spent the last 20 years in Marbella, where he reportedly lives a luxury lifestyle and throws lavish parties. One gangland source has told the M.E.N. that members of Manchester's notorious Quality Street gang have been among his guests.

Another source said Morrissey grew up in Littleborough and used to be a doorman in the local pubs. He is said to have family in Rochdale.

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