SUPERGRASS? Was a recent top secret extradition hearing behind the arrest of Thomas Kavanagh? (NCA)
A SUPERGRASS deal could be behind recent operations in Ireland and the UK against the feared Kinahan Cartel, it has been suggested.
Two members of the organised crime gang, which is one of Ireland's biggest drug smuggling outfits, have been involved in court cases in the UK since a suspected Irish drug dealer was arrested late in 2018 before his case was shrouded in secrecy.
They include Kinahan number two Thomas "Bomber" Kavanagh, 51, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, who is facing up to five years in jail next month after being found guilty this week of possession of a stun gun disguised as a torch.
He was arrested by the NCA in January before being charged.
The other is suspected Kinahan hit man David Hunter, 40, who is currently facing extradition from the UK to Ireland on suspicion of the murder of dissident republican Michael Barr, 34, at Sunset House pub in Dublin’s north inner city on April 25, 2016.
INTELLIGENCE: David Hunter was arrested two months after Kavanagh (Garda)
Hunter was arrested in the UK on a European arrest warrant in March.
Just a month later Ireland withdrew its application to extradite the mystery drug trafficker.
Known only as Mr AS in extradition court papers, the 29-year-old Irish national was arrested in England by the National Crime Agency (NCA), often referred to as the UK's FBI, following a European Arrest Warrant from the Irish Republic last year.
He appeared at Westminster Magistrate's Court for extradition proceedings to be returned to ireland a number of times, but his name and address were withheld, the case was heard in chambers, while no other details could be reported.
Neither the court, NCA or Irish Garda would explain why the case was so secret.
As part of an NCA/Garda investigation into drug and firearms supply, Kavanagh was arrested in January at Birmingham Airport as he returned from a family holiday in Mexico
The NCA said its investigation into drug and firearms supply continues.
Hunter is still going through the extradition process.
MURDERED: Michael Barr (Facebook)
Mr Barr is believed to have been executed on the orders of the Kinahan cartel.
The gang believed the New IRA member had supplied the guns used in the killing of David Byrne, 34, a Kinahan mob henchman gunned down at a boxing weigh-in at Dublin's Regency Hotel on February 5 2016.
Contract killer Eamon Cumberton, 31, has already been jailed for life in connection with the killing of Barr, after his DNA found on a Freddy Krueger mask left in the getaway car was matched to that found on a cigarette he discarded during an arrest for a separate matter.
It is not known what happened to Mr AS once his bail conditions to live and sleep at an address known to the NCA were cancelled.
A £2,000 surety given to the court by him was returned.
There is no firm evidence of a link between his case and the two subsequent Kinahan arrests.
Criminals turn super grass when they agree to give evidence in court about other villains and they are usually taken into the witness protection scheme.
It can also be when a suspect is convinced to become a major police informant to provide ongoing intelligence on other big fish crooks.
A former senior detective said: "It is possible that the extradition request for Mr AS was discharged in this case because the suspect agreed to give up everything he knew and the authorities believed they would get some big fishes as a result."
If you know who Mr AS is or anything about him contact firstname.lastname@example.org in strict confidence.