One-eyed mobster jailed for €1.5m coke seizure was Colombian link for Kinahan cartel

‘Mid-ranking’ gangster is sentenced to 11 years for his role in drug-dealing operation

Cartel boss Daniel Kinahan and his Liverpool connection

Liverpool criminal Liam Cornett

Cocaine seizure

Liam Cornett in Monte Carlo

€68K Rolex

Eamon DillonSunday World

A man jailed this week for a €1.5 million cocaine seizure acted as a key linkman between the Kinahan cartel and drug suppliers in Colombia.

One-eyed Carl Powell hit the headlines when two men attempted to escape from gardaí during a raid by swimming across the Liffey at Islandbridge in Dublin in June last year.

Based in Spain, Powell worked directly for the Kinahan cartel, running a smuggling route from Colombia, according to Sunday World sources.

The Liverpool drug boss was caught in a garda operation in Dublin that had been targeting the trafficking ring who were shipping cocaine in bottles of champagne.

The decision to station a garda liaison officer in Bogota in 2021 was a key factor in ensuring officers in Ireland got up-to-date intelligence on the gang.

The detailed information meant gardaí were able to perfectly time their move against the gang when the cocaine reached the country.

This week, Powell (34) got an 11-year prison sentence for his role in the operation, which was described in court as “mid-ranking.”

Cocaine seizure

His co-accused Gary Graham (48), described as a ‘foot soldier’, got eight-and-a-half years for the drug-dealing operation involving heroin, cannabis and cocaine worth over €1.5 million.

When gardaí raided a property backing onto the River Liffey in Palmerstown in June last year, two men escaped arrest by jumping into the river.

Graham was arrested at the scene along with some other men and 34 kilos of cannabis with a street value of €680,000 was seized, according to Garda evidence heard in court.

At a second apartment in Dublin 2, gardaí found cannabis, cocaine and heroin with a combined street value of €836,400 and over €800,000 in cash.

Documents in the apartment were linked to Powell and he was arrested a couple of days later at the upmarket Marker Hotel in Dublin.

The Liverpool man pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis, cocaine and heroin for sale or supply at the apartment in Dublin 2 and having cash which was the proceeds of crime.

He has 20 previous convictions and was sentenced by a UK court to four years in his absence for cultivating cannabis.

Powell’s lawyer said his client was born and raised in Liverpool, where his partner and small children live, and has been in custody since his arrest and missed the birth of his daughter.

Liam Cornett in Monte Carlo

He said Powell “fell into the wrong line of behaviour”, adding that his guilty plea was valuable to the court, given he wasn’t present in the apartment when the drugs and money were seized.

Powell is blind in one eye, which will make custody harder for him and he will not have many visitors, as his family are all in the UK, and his lawyer asked Judge Martin Nolan to be as lenient as possible.

Judge Nolan said it was clear Powell was involved in the drug-dealing operation at a “midway” level and while he did not own the drugs or the money seized, he was responsible for minding it and dealing with it.

He noted Powell has a number of convictions, including for growing cannabis and he jailed Powell for 11 years.

Graham, who has a previous conviction for drug-dealing, pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis for sale or supply.

His lawyer said he was a “foot soldier” in the drugs operation and got involved due to a gambling addiction.

He showed no signs of wealth and has worked hard over the years in a number of different jobs, including baggage handler, tow truck driver and newsagent owner.

Islandbridge, River Liffey

Judge Nolan noted he was at the lowest rung of the operation and was involved in distributing the drugs. He imposed an eight-and-a-half year sentence.

The case highlights the close links Liverpool gangland has to the Kinahan cartel.

Powell is not the only drug dealer from the city whose links to the Irish gangsters has landed them behind bars.

Liam Cornett (29) was another mid-level player in the drugs world until the Kinahans spotted his potential for their business.

Liverpool criminal Liam Cornett

Cornett was entrusted by the Kinahans as their main point of contact in Liverpool, from where cocaine, heroin and amphetamines were distributed to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Also known as ‘The Lam’, Cornett based his operation in Marbella, and enjoyed a life of horse racing, partying in Monte Carlo and splashing the cash on jewellery, watches and sports cars.

UK police targeted his operation in 2017, which saw several arrests and raids carried out, with Cornett arrested as he got off a flight in Manchester while sporting a £60,000 (€68,000) watch.

He was handed down a massive 26-year sentence which he failed to have reduced on appeal last year.

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