Kinahan sidekick laundered €350k a day in drug profits before arrest, Spanish cops claim
They said it was spread using the Hawala system.
Spanish police say Daniel Kinahan’s sidekick laundered €350,000 in daily drug profits for 18 months.
Johnny Morrissey’s scam reportedly netted Kinahan (45) €200 million in 18 months.
Detectives claim they smashed the most important international criminal organization in Spain by arresting Morrissey, 62, on Monday.
Spanish detectives say they don’t believe the cash left Spain with Daniel Kinahan, his father, Christy (64), and brother Christopher (41).
They said it was spread using the Hawala system.
The informal method of moving money involves a network of brokers and comes from an Arabic term for transfer or trust. Criminal gangs use code numbers or tokens like torn banknotes to prove cash is due.
In the police force’s first comments since Morrissey and his wife Nicola were arrested on Monday near Marbella, a Civil Guard spokesman said: “The Civil Guard, through an operation dubbed Whitewall, has smashed the most important international money-laundering organization in Spain.”
“They could have laundered over 200 million euros through Hawala in a year and a half.”
Morrissey, one of seven leaders of the Kinahan Organized Crime Gang, was held on suspicion of money laundering at his Costa del Sol home.
His wife, Nicola, CEO of a Glasgow-based vodka firm called Nero Drinks, was also detained but released after a court appearance yesterday. She may have been released on bail and remains under investigation, but officials could not be reached early this morning (Thurs).
Morrissey tried to cover his face as he was led away in handcuffs, while Nicola raised her middle finger.
The man from Greater Manchester who lived abroad was filmed by the Civil Guard as police searched his home. He was bare-chested and wearing tropical shorts.
Officers were also caught on camera counting wads of cash that they had taken and searching cars that they thought were being used to move money and drugs in secret compartments.
The arrests on Monday were the result of a long investigation by the elite Central Operative Unit of the Civil Guard Unit, which looks into and prosecutes serious and organized crime.
The Garda, Britain’s National Crime Agency, Europe, and the US DEA participated in the police operation.
Yesterday, Paul Cleary, the Garda assistant commissioner in charge of Kinahan and other gangs, said that a crackdown on gangs around the world would continue.
He said, “The recent actions in Spain show how strong and determined international law enforcement is to break up and destroy criminal networks.”
A Garda Sochána will continue to work closely with international partners to target transnational organized crime gangs that profit from drug trafficking and harm our society, especially those that harm our communities in Ireland.
Spanish detectives said the investigation began with the seizure of 200 kilograms of cocaine and nearly €500,000 in cash hidden in vehicles with “sophisticated concealment systems” at the beginning of last year.
One of the criminal organization’s alleged members ran a used car dealership.
Nearly a dozen homes and businesses were searched in Spain and Britain, including two in Glasgow and one in Heywood, Rochdale.
Britain had no arrests.
Johnny Morrissey wasn’t named in a Spanish police statement about the operation, but the Civil Guard said, “The main target in Spain collected large amounts of cash from criminal organizations operating in our country and handed it through the Hawala system to organized criminal groups in other countries and vice versa.”
Investigators confirmed he transferred over €200 million during the investigation.
The Civil Guard statement on Nero Drinks:
The organization’s leaders in Spain allegedly created a luxury vodka brand and promoted it at shows, parties, and events in Costa del Sol nightclubs and restaurants.
According to tax authorities, it couldn’t fund the arrestees’ lifestyles.
“They allegedly set up a UK company that was dependent on a Gibraltar company to conceal the true identities of the directors of the firms used to launder Hawala money.”
Johnny Morrissey, whose full name is John Francis Morrissey, was one of seven people sanctioned in April (OFAC).
US authorities said of Morrissey, so close to cartel boss Daniel Kinahan he was invited to his wedding in Dubai in 2017: “John Morrissey has worked for the Kinahan Organized Crime Group (KOCG) for several years, including as an enforcer, and facilitates international drug shipments from South America. John Morrissey launders money.
Daniel’s dad, Christopher, and veteran Dublin-born criminal Bernard Clancy were also on the list.
Christopher Kinahan Jnr, Daniel Kinahan’s “advisor and closest confidant,” Sean McGovern, and Ian Dixon, who was arrested over Gary Hutch’s 2015 Costa del Sol murder but never charged, were also named in a $5 million appeal for information.
Morrissey is the first arrest since the list was released.
Three companies were banned from trading in the US, including Nero Drinks Company Ltd.
Johnny left Ireland more than 20 years ago after he was accused of trying to hurt a Criminal Assets Bureau officer. He was the “ambassador” for his wife’s drinks business, and he met with famous people.
The Kinahan cartel’s feud with the rival Hutch gang killed 18 people in Ireland and Spain. Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was arrested last August near his hideout in Fuengirola, Costa del Sol. He will be tried later this year for the 2016 murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin.
Last year’s Panorama documentary on Daniel Kinahan’s influence in boxing led to calls for tighter regulation.
Tyson Fury reportedly fired his negotiator after learning of his “instrumental” role in brokering a two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua. On Instagram, Fury thanked Kinahan.
The 45-year-old Dubliner, now based in Dubai, said after Panorama: “I’m not in a gang or conspiracy.” I’m indifferent. None. Anywhere in the world. “
Morrissey is being looked into for money laundering and being in a gang, which was confirmed yesterday.
Sources close to the criminal investigation said that the judge who was in charge of it made it “secret” to protect the court’s work.
The “Secreto de sumario” order prevents lawyers from accessing case files, including Morrissey’s defense attorney and the prosecutor.
It’s 30 days but can be extended.
The order prohibits public officials from disclosing case details and imposes fines for violations.
When cases are young, judges keep their investigations secret to minimize the risk of leaks.
The move could delay Morrissey’s bail release from remand.
Another man who was arrested on Monday and whose name and country are unknown was sent back to jail by Marbella’s Court of Investigation Number Five.
Nicola, 47, was bailed but remains under investigation, sources said.
Yesterday, she was missing.
Her husband could spend a few months in jail if his lawyers can’t convince the judge that he won’t run away and should be freed on bail with rules like giving up his passport and going to court every week or two weeks.