Major Kinahan Cartel blow as UK drug baron arrested before paying up €20m debt

Louis James Edwards (44 ) had run up a massive bill with the Kinahan organisation, who were supplying him with cocaine

UK drug baron Louis James Edwards as he was taken into custody in Spain

Major drug suspect Louis James Edwards is arrested at a Benidorm hotel on June 21

Major drug suspect Louis James Edwards is arrested at a Benidorm hotel on June 21

Guardia Civil officers arrest Edwards, who was one of the UK’s most wanted men

Liam Byrne

Sean McGovern

Nicola TallantSunday World

A UK drug baron arrested in Spain last month owed a €20m debt to Irish mob boss Daniel Kinahan and will now not be able to pay up.

Suspected drug baron Louis James Edwards, 44, was described as one of the most wanted men in the UK when he was nabbed at a hotel in Benidorm in June.

But it has since emerged he had run up a massive bill with the Kinahan organisation, who were supplying him with cocaine and which he in turn was distributing throughout southern England.

Edwards was listed as one of Crimestoppers most-wanted crooks and was filmed as he was led away by armed Guardia Civil officers through a public square following the police blitz on the hotel.

Major drug suspect Louis James Edwards is arrested at a Benidorm hotel on June 21

In custody and with his assets being monitored, Edwards now has no way of paying the Kinahans back their money – in what is a huge blow to the under-fire organisation as it currently scrambles to call in its debts.

A series of major drug seizures in the UK have also hit the sanctioned cartel in the pocket as a united police effort continues to chip away at the billion-dollar drug mob.

It is understood that the intelligence-led operations, including the arrest of Edwards, are a direct result of the information lines which have been opened for informants to give up details of Christy Kinahan Snr and his sons, Christopher Jnr and Daniel, and their business dealings.

Spanish police said their initial investigation into Edwards began in Malaga on the Costa del Sol, but agents on his trail followed him to Alicante on Spain’s east coast.

Major drug suspect Louis James Edwards is arrested at a Benidorm hotel on June 21

Working with the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK, Guardia Civil officers nabbed Edwards when they followed a relative of his who had come to visit the area and led them to the Benidorm Hotel where he was arrested.

While the Kinahan organisation would have at one point been able to deal with a €20m debt write-off, they no longer can manage to lose such vast sums of money.

Raid after raid on premises and known associates of the cartel have led to seizures of drugs and cash across Ireland and the UK.

While the top command of the organisation have tried to reassure business associates that they are liquid and that their billions are safely out of reach, the constant rounds of raids and seizures have been pounding them financially.

Paranoia is also at its peak – and the Kinahans believe they have been infiltrated by an undercover agent or customs spy who has been feeding information into a massive money-laundering investigation.

Liam Byrne

It is understood the takedown of the Kinahan organisation will be a blueprint going forward for dismantling other cartels, many of which survive despite the arrest of a kingpin.

US and European authorities, along with their international partners, have been years planning the Kinahans’ demise and have deep tentacles into their entire corporate structure.

“This is undoubtedly a first in a method of taking down a cartel,” said a source.

“This isn’t all about only going for those at the top, but it is also about killing off what’s in the middle.

“It’s a well-thought-out and structured plan to dig out all the roots of this organisation and leave nothing behind.

“As they grew and continued to expand, the authorities were watching all the way and this will all come out in the near future as we move into the final stage of this process,” the source added.

“The corporate structure is suffering because it has a huge payroll and is made up of a lot of moving parts which all need to be functioning properly.

“The constant losses, arrests and raids may seem small fry to the larger picture – but it isn’t.

“Each kick and punch is another blow to the giant.

“From a law-enforcement point of view, this has been a slow and steady process and the Kinahan Organisation is well on its way to financial collapse.”

Sean McGovern

In Dubai, police have yet to move in on the Kinahans and their associates.

Some underworld sources suggest that Daniel Kinahan is already gone from the Emirates and is now bedded down in Oman.

However, others claim that he, his father and brother remain in the Emirates hoping to continue to enjoy the safe haven where they have established themselves for years.

A number of reports from Dubai claim that Daniel Kinahan has even been spotted out and about looking increasingly stressed and balding.

Liam Byrne, the brother of Regency Hotel victim David, visited Dubai in the weeks following the sanctions but is spending his summer on the island of Ibiza, where he has property and business interests.

Officers have yet to move in on Sean McGovern despite an arrest warrant issued for him last April for the murder of Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan.

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