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Irish criminal networks have traveled with other European gangs to discuss the supply of the lethal synthetic opiate, fentanyl, into the Irish and European markets, it has emerged. This is likely in response to the shortage of heroin in Europe due to crackdowns by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The group of European traffickers engaged with Mexican Cartels, including the Sinaloa cartel, who are leaders in the production and supply of fentanyl into the US market. They currently coordinate shipments of cocaine and meth to various parts of Europe.
A long-running West Dublin trafficking outfit, which has dominated the supply of heroin into Ireland for many decades, is considered the most significant Irish organized crime group involved in this endeavor.
Taliban’s Crackdown on Opium
The crackdown and restriction on growing opium there, since the Taliban’s restoration in August 2021 is being blamed in the UK for a gap in the market, which drug agencies say is being filled by synthetic opiates. Around 95-95% of the UK’s heroin originates in Afghanistan.
“In 2019 Irish criminal groups discussed the move to the legalization of cannabis in certain jurisdictions and the potential for increased numbers of countries to follow this route,” he said. “They planned to invest €30 million into the global legal cannabis industry.”
Irish Gardai Cooperation with Colombian Police
Justice Minister Helen McEntee is to seek approval from the Government in the coming weeks to allow the special arrangement between the two police forces. Drew Harris visited Colombia earlier this year and met the leader of Colombia’s National Police, the country’s deputy defense minister, and the Mexican military attaché.
Despite the successes that gardaí and international police forces have had against the Kinahan crime group, the organization still has deep connections with Columbian cartels. In 2020, the Government sanctioned a three-year expansion plan for the Garda Liaison Officer Network.
It saw two new regional garda liaison posts created in Washington D.C. and in Bogotá, Colombia, based in the Irish embassies. The government has also approved the expansion of the Garda Liaison Officer Network to Bangkok and Abu Dhabi, two places where many drug traffickers have made their base to help skirt law enforcement in their home countries.
Irish Garda Commissioner Visits Dubai
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris traveled to meet police in Dubai to discuss the Kinahan gang. In a statement, An Garda Síochána said Commissioner Harris and senior garda officers regularly liaise and work with international law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle organized crime gangs. This has included the Commissioner traveling to the US, Colombia, and Europe as part of this work.
Kinahan Cartel Franchise Models
The Kinahan Cartel has taken a stake in major drug deals being conducted by domestic crime gangs in exchange for assisting them in importing large consignments of narcotics into the Irish Republic, according to gardaí.
The Irish Times learned that the cartel’s franchisee system, which has been in operation for several years, offers an option for criminal gangs to use the Kinahans’ contacts and infrastructure when importing drugs into Ireland.
Garda officers say the cartel has changed its business model and has been using freelancers, or franchisees, after its long-standing drugs distribution group in Ireland, the Byrne Organised Crime Group, was dismantled amid the Garda crackdown that followed the escalation of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
David Byrne was the sole death that occurred during the infamous Regency Hotel shooting in Dublin, Ireland in 2016. Liam Byrne, his younger brother has operated the network since, until his recent arrest in Spain on a United Kingdom extradition warrant on gun charges on June 4, 2023. He had travelled to Majorca, Spain from Dubai to meet family.
He added the involvement of so many people, especially those with no proven record of loyalty, created “opportunities” for the Garda and international law enforcement “to gather intelligence” and disrupt the chain of supply.