Case dropped Details of the Spanish cops' planned raid on Kinahan mob shared in advance
Hundreds of officers from different forces in Europe were informed of the planned Operation Shovel busts on the Kinahan mob in advance of the raids and arrests putting the two year investigation at risk.
The decision to brief cops about the massive crackdown in the hours before a multi agency task force moved in on the Dapper Don and his gang in 2010 is cited as one of a litany of reasons for its failure.
Only a very tight circle of investigators are usually aware of the identities of targets, safehouses and premises linked to them in advance of raids in order to reduce the risk of any leaks.
Kinahan Snr, at the time was under investigation in Belgium for bribing police and it would later be discovered that his mob had two Spanish police officers on their payroll on the Costa Del Sol.
The officers were met once a month by a senior Kinahan lieutenant and paid €5k each for information.
An investment in a development site in Brazil by the Kinahan mob which was initially seen as the jewel in the Operation Shovel crown but was later discovered to be a pyramid scheme to lure investors and tied investigators in knots for years.
The land would later be deemed almost worthless due to Brazil's dysfunctional economy.
Meanwhile, a Spanish chief prosecutor forced to drop plans to put Christy Kinahan and his sons on trial for money laundering, has spoken of his “disappointment” over the case.
Julio Martinez Carazo, Head of Prosecution for the Marbella area of Spain’s Costa del Sol, predicted in March 2016 the crime godfather and alleged cartel leaders and members would see the inside of a courtroom “in a few months” after some “loose ends” were tied up.
A fortnight ago it emerged none of the original 31 suspects arrested in high-profile police raids in May 2010 would be tried for money laundering or criminal association.
And it was confirmed at the same time the Dapper Don, 63, was the only Kinahan facing charges after the long-running probe when an investigating judge ruled there was enough evidence to put him in the dock for passport fraud.
Yesterday, in his first comments since the shock news, Mr Carazo admitted: “I feel disappointed by the length of time the response to a matter of this kind has taken.
“An investigation of this type has to be scrupulous and meticulous but the fact that we’ve taken 10 years to get to where we are now is not justice for me.”
Spanish prosecutors sought information from four other countries including the UK and Ireland as part of their attempts to build a watertight case against the Kinahan gang.
The investigation that led to the May 2010 Operation Shovel arrests in at least three countries, including those of Christy and his two sons Daniel and Christopher, began in 2008 as a drugs and firearms probe before being widened to include money laundering in 2009.
Ireland, Brazil and Cyprus responded saying they had not found any evidence of money laundering, weakening the probe in Spain further after no drugs or firearms were found in the May 2010 raids and follow-up work failed to produce any results.
Prosecutors asked an investigating judge to drop the drugs and weapons part of the criminal court probe in July 2014, the same year Ireland and Brazil answered their rogatory commissions some four years after the formal requests for information were first sent from Spain.
Spanish prosecutors are yet to receive information from the relevant UK authorities they first requested via a rogatory commission nearly 11 YEARS ago in December 2009.
The failure to get answers from the UK resulted in the investigating judge’s recent decision to wind up his money laundering probe against the Operation Shovel suspects and lift the threat of trial and prison hanging over most of them.
Well-placed legal sources said Costa del Sol prosecutors had sought information linked to arrests in Britain after the seizure of firearms in an operation there called Operation Zoo.
They wanted to see if they could relate any of the people under investigation in the UK for weapons trafficking with the Kinahan cartel.
But instead of receiving the statements they requested, they were met with years of frustration as it emerged UK officials wanted to avoid any risk of double jeopardy that prevents people from being tried twice on the same charges.
The formal requests were reiterated four times over seven years from May 2011 but never yielded the documents the Spanish wanted.
Prosecutors ended up having to abandon plans to put the Operation Shovel suspects on trial for money laundering after a failed last attempt to get information from Britain, sent in May 2018, stressing the Spanish probe was no longer a weapons trafficking investigation.
Mr Carazo said: “When I spoke about loose ends being tied up in 2016 that’s because I was still hopeful of a positive UK response, since the fact we weren’t investigating the same type of crime removed any double jeopardy risk.
“The rogatory commission sent to the UK was the most important one for me.
“I can’t say for sure there would have been a money laundering trial if our request had been properly answered but the simple fact is we never got that information and so we’ll never know.
“The disappointment I feel is due to the lack of a definitive result despite the prolonged investigation we’ve carried out in Spain and the lack of agility in the communication between the competent Spanish and UK authorities.
“The co-operation between Spain and the UK in these matters is normally much more fluid.”
The work that has gone into the Operation Shovel case has been described as “enormous” by those involved in the probe.
The case files run to around 32,000 pages. The document prosecutors submitted requesting the mothballing of the investigation into crimes of money laundering and criminal association runs to 57 pages and took “four months” to draft according to Mr Carazo.
He insisted yesterday: “I can confidently say I believe we’ve done everything in our power as state prosecutors.
Responding to recent claims that the Kinahans had two Spanish police on their payroll and deliberately left documents they knew detectives would find in their raids which would “tie them up for years and amount to nothing”, he added: “The operation began as a drugs trafficking operation and when the raids were carried out in May 2010 no drugs were found in any of the 30-plus properties and premises searched which was unusual.
“But I haven’t seen any court evidence pointing to any suspicions of police tipsters.
“If there had been the slightest suspicion it’s something that would have been investigated."
Ten years after the Operation Shovel arrests, the Kinahans have relocated to Dubai and the gym in Puerto Banus near Marbella that has been linked to Daniel Kinahan, originally called MGM and subsequently renamed the MTK Marbella boxing gym, has closed.
Legal sources confirmed the return of assets confiscated after the police raids was a “logical result” of the fact most of the detainees are not now being investigated on suspicion of having committed a crime.
Twenty-four men and women who were being formally investigated, including Guinness kidnapper John Cunningham, are in the clear as a result of the recent Estepona court ruling resulting from the prosecution request.
Only if compelling new evidence enabling them to be charged with criminal wrongdoing comes to light in the future, will they be hauled to court.
The investigating judge simultaneously decided to ask state prosecutors to submit indictments against five of the original 31 detainees for lesser offences which in most cases carry short prison sentences.
Christy Kinahan and two other men, Robert Edward Phillips and James Gregory Naughton, face trial for passport fraud.
Jasvinder Singh Kamoo, said to have played a key money laundering role by police investigators in a report highlighted by the Spanish press in their initial coverage of the case after the arrests, faces trial for using fake number plates on a Mercedes.
And a fifth man, Dublin gangster and convicted armed robber Ross Browning, is facing trial on a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon.
Legal sources confirmed yesterday they did not expect any of the original 31 Operation Shovel detainees to seek compensation.
One said: “There were sufficient grounds to launch an investigation and for several years there were ample reasons to continue that criminal probe.”