Alleged Kinahan Cartel 'key player' Johnny Morrissey arrested in Costa del Sol


ONE of seven key members of the Kinahan organised crime cartel sanctioned by the US has been arrested at his Costa del Sol home.

Johnny Morrissey, who grew up in Greater Manchester, who was identified by the US authorities in April as an alleged money launderer and enforcer for the cartel, was led away in handcuffs in an operation involving the Spanish Civil Guard, US Drug Enforcement Agency and Irish Garda.

His wife Nicola, the CEO of Scotland-based sipping vodka firm Nero Vodka, which was also identified as one of three businesses linked to organised crime in April, was also arrested by armed police.

Police searched several properties with a court warrant including his home near Marbella and business addresses.

The 62-year old former Rochdale doorman, who ran a restaurant in Cork in the 1990s, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences.

The pair appeared in court for a private bail hearing on Wednesday after spending two nights in police custody.

In April Morrissey (above left with Nicola) was named by the US department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) alongside six other alleged cartel key players, including its alleged leaders Christy "Dapper Don" Kinahan and his two sons Daniel and Christopher.

A press release in April said: "John Morrissey has worked for the Kinahan Organised Crime Group (KOCG) for several years, including as an enforcer, and facilitates international drug shipments for the organisation from South America. John Morrissey is also involved in money laundering."

Johnny Morrissey fled Ireland more than 20 years ago after allegedly being involved in a plot to harm a Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) officer, who was investigating him.

The Kinahan Cartel has been involved in an ongoing feud with the Irish Hutch crime gang that has seen around 20 murders.

The published sanctions list revealed the home addresses in Dubai of Daniel and Christopher jnr, plus a string of identification details used by the seven, including differing dates and places of birth and passport numbers.US 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."

The sanctions mean US banks, financial institutions, companies and other organisations cannot do business with any of the seven or the three named businesses and any cash they have in the US or US banks worldwide can be frozen.

The sanctions have impacted on Daniel Kinahan's attempts to reinvent himself as a boxing fixer and advisor, including arranging a fight for Tyson Fury that was stopped after public and political outrage in Ireland.

Daniel and Christopher Kinahan continue to deny any involvement in organised crime.

In April the US government announced a $5m (£3.8m) reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the three main leaders of the Kinahan crime cartel.

Ms Cronin said the reward would be provided for "information leading to the financial disruption of the Kinahans, or the arrest or conviction" of Daniel Kinahan, his father Christopher Snr and brother Christopher Jnr."

At the time, the British National Crime Agency (NCA) described the cartel as "an Irish organised crime group responsible for importing multi-tonne quantities of drugs and firearms around the world for more than 20 years."

An NCA spokesman said of the sanctions: "The Kinahan crime group, which has also been linked to more than a dozen gangland murders, have been effectively cut off from the global financial system."

He added: "Over the last two years, the National Crime Agency, in collaboration with international law enforcement partners and US government bodies, have collated material generated from significant operational activity which shows their involvement in serious and organised criminality."

The material was submitted to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the United States, who today announced that the head of the crime group, Christopher Vincent Kinahan Snr, (below left) and his two sons, Daniel Joseph Kinahan (below right) and Christopher Vincent Kinahan Jnr, along with a number of their associates and businesses, will be subject to the sanctions.

"Over the years, the Kinahans have gone to extreme lengths to avoid law enforcement action by using corrupt officials, receiving training in anti-surveillance techniques, and working with trusted associates to distance themselves from their criminal activities.

"And they have sought to locate themselves outside of the UK and Ireland, to frustrate the NCA and partner law enforcement efforts to pursue them.

"However, NCA investigations have caused major disruption to the crime group’s activity in the UK and beyond.

"NCA officers have prevented eight threats to life - murders and punishment beatings - on the streets of the UK and elsewhere by sharing intelligence with law enforcement partners.

The NCA and its partners have also seized dozens of firearms, including machine guns and automatic rifles. The agency’s international network of officers have shared intelligence with our overseas law enforcement agencies that has disrupted the group’s activities.

NCA Deputy Director of Investigations, Matt Horne, said in April: “We target criminals who cause the most harm, are the most violent, those who exploit the vulnerable, and dominate communities. The Kinahan crime group fall into all of those categories.

“They have transcended international boundaries – distributing multi-million pound shipments of drugs throughout Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe, and have been engaging in firearms trafficking and money laundering.

“They thought they were untouchable but the sanctions imposed today will be a huge blow to the Kinahans. It has cut them off from the global financial system, making them toxic to legitimate businesses and financial institutions, and will cause other criminals to think twice about doing business with them.

“Additionally, it shows that we will explore every opportunity available to disrupt their criminal activities and, rest assured, we will not stop here.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we will ensure those who are responsible for flooding the streets with drugs and firearms, laundering the proceeds of crime, ordering murders and inflicting violence are held to account for their actions.”