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Exclusive: Kinahan cartel mobster John Morrissey linked to 38 gangland murders

‘Charming businessman’ Morrissey was really a brutal enforcer and ruthless mob assassin

John Morrissey

Eamon Dillon

Sanctioned Kinahan Cartel mobster Johnny Morrissey had been linked with dozens of gangland murders outside of Ireland before being targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Despite his outgoing genial charm, Morrissey was in reality a "highly dangerous and violent man" implicated in 38 murders and whose main criminal business was that of an assassin.

He was one of a slew of serious organised crime figures from both the UK and the Netherlands who had moved to Ireland in the 1990s, from where they ran their illicit operations.

Sources say Morrissey had been buying cocaine from Russian gangs, who organised shipments to be dropped off the Irish coast, where he retrieved it for distribution in the UK and Ireland.

Unknown to gardaí, the feared mobster had set up shop in Kinsale, Co. Cork, renovated a pub at huge cost with everything paid for in cash, earning him the nickname 'Johnny Cash.'

He had even used diamonds and jewellery to buy goods and equipment around Cork during the 1990s.

But his preference to hire workers from England to carry out the work annoyed many locals, and gardaí became aware of his wealth.

When the fledging CAB made enquiries with Interpol as to Morrissey's background, they were stunned to discover such a dangerous criminal in their midst and set up a series of raids.

Officers found a handgun, half a kilo of cocaine, and cash when they carried out a series of raids at properties linked to Morrissey in Co. Cork.

The haul also included the Cartier jewellery he was using to pay the Russians, who at the time still had trouble getting hold of designer goods amid currency fluctuations as they sought to flaunt their power and wealth.

According to sources, the Irish passport holder travelled to Russia shortly after the CAB raids and when he failed to pay his outstanding bill, the gangsters broke his arms and legs.

Officers also foiled Morrissey's attempt to rescue an ocean-going rigid dinghy and commercial diving equipment, which he used to reach greater depths than normal sub-aqua gear.

A man sent from the UK to collect the boat and gear was stopped by gardaí on the way to a ferry and the equipment was also seized.

Sources say Morrissey singled out the chief legal officer at CAB, Barry Galvin, as the source of his troubles and tried to hire assassins to have the lawyer killed.

Up until the Proceeds of Crime Act came into effect following the 1996 murder of campaigning journalist Veronica Guerin by the Gilligan gang, criminals had no reason to fear losing their assets.

The gang openly bought businesses, properties and had bank accounts in their own names, which almost overnight became the target of CAB - whose officers were quick to use their new powers.

It forced the likes of Morrissey to flee Ireland along with George 'the Penguin' Mitchell' and Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh.

George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell

Morrissey and The Penguin have maintained close links over the years in Spain, where Mitchell had kept an apartment close to one of Morrissey's properties.

One source insists The Penguin is just as wealthy and successful in the drugs business as the Kinahans, but has managed to avoid the same attention from the authorities.

Similarly, Bomber Kavanagh went on to enjoy the best part of three decades of ever-expanding growth on the international drugs trafficking scene until his recent UK conviction and 21-year sentence.

Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh

Morrissey's inclusion on the sanctions list by the US Department of Treasury along with his Glasgow-registered Nero drinks company led to calls for a tougher approach in the Scottish parliament this week.

Tory MP Russell Findlay said: "The Kinahans are not interested in flogging vodka.

"Their real business is cocaine and heroin. And it is widely known that this cartel is in partnership with Scotland's Lyons gang, making vast profits from killing Scots."

US officials said Nero Vodka is controlled by the gang enforcer with his wife Nicole, a "frontperson for his interests".

Wife Nicole and John Morrissey

He has lived openly in the resort city of Marbella and regularly appeared on social media and local websites enjoying a party lifestyle promoting their vodka brand.

At one point before the pandemic, they had struck a sponsorship deal with Scottish football club Hamilton Academical.

Morrissey has been a long-time friend of the Kinahans, and even published an online account of how Daniel is the victim of a conspiracy to portray him as a criminal.

He was a guest at Daniel Kinahan's 2017 wedding at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, along with mobsters from Italy, Bosnia, Chile and the Netherlands.

Explaining why Morrissey is on their sanctions, the US Treasury Department stated last week: "John Morrissey has worked for the KOCG [Kinahan Organised Crime Group] for several years, including as an enforcer, and facilitates international drug shipments for the organization from South America.

"John Morrissey is also involved in money laundering."

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