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Belfast Live
Cate McCurry

Kinahan crime gang bosses put on US wanted list with $5m reward

The US government is offering five million dollars for information on an Irish crime gang or for 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.

US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin told an event at Dublin City Hall that the US department of the treasury is offering a reward of five million US dollars (£3.8 million/4.6 million euro) for information that will lead to the “financial destruction” of the Kinahan crime gang or the arrest and conviction of its leaders.

Read more: Masked men fire shots close to residential area in Derry

Speaking at the event, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the Kinahan gang is worth 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 out of money.

Among those sanctioned by the US department of the treasury’s office of foreign assets control (OFAC) were its key members, including leaders Christy Kinahan Snr, Daniel Kinahan and Christy Kinahan Jnr.

They were named as being heads of the criminal network.

Also named and sanctioned were their associates Sean McGovern, Ian Dixon, Bernard Clancy and John Morrissey.

A number of businesses were also identified as being associated with the crime gang.

In a statement, the US department said the action is the result of close collaboration between OFAC, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the US department of state, An Garda Siochana, the UK’s National Crime Agency and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

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.

“Treasury is proud to have co-ordinated so closely with our international counterparts, and the US government will continue to use every available resource to dismantle these criminal networks.”

Gregory Gatjanis, associate director of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, told a media event in Dublin on Wednesday the Kinahan cartel was now being prioritised by US law enforcement in the same way it pursued the Italian Camorra mafia group, the Yakuza mafia of Japan and the Russian Izmaylovskaya mafia.

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.

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.

In a lengthy statement, the US treasury office said that the Kinahan crime gang, which operates in Ireland, is also established in 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.

Criminal activities include international money laundering, generating proceeds in the UK, which are then pooled together and passed to local criminals before being handed to Irish organised crime group members and laundered out of the UK.

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.

Read more: PSNI launch attempted murder probe after petrol bomb 'thrown' at officer

Read more: Watch: Shop workers threatened with a knife during North Belfast robbery

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