secret dealing | 

Daniel Kinahan forged ties with Columbia’s Urabeños Cartel in 2017, report claims

Kinahans secret South American links were revealed when top trafficker Edin ‘Tito’ Gačanin was also arrested in the UAE.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Daniel Kinahan forged a deal with a Colombian drug cartel to smuggle cocaine into Europe, a leading crime website has revealed.

InSight Crime has uncovered the Dublin gangster’s deep links to South American gangs who he joined forces with to transport “mega-shipments” across continents.

The crime boss reportedly turned to the Urabeños – a trafficking gang formed out of paramilitaries in Colombia – when key ally Ricardo Riquelme was arrested in 2017, leaving Kinahan down a cocaine supply route.

Ricardo 'El Rico' Riquelme Vega a Dutch-Chilean trafficker and one of Daniel Kinahan’s closet criminal contacts was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2021.

The Urabeños Cartel is now regarded as Columbia’s biggest cocaine trafficking gang.- and controlled the production of the drug in the country’s jungles.

Daniel Kinahan, according to the report, is also understood to have struck up a partnership with Anthony Alfredo Martínez Meza, who shipped cocaine from Panama to Spain.

"Ireland's Daniel Kinahan also turned to the Urabeños after another route set up by Dutch-Chilean Ricardo Riquelme was dismantled upon Riquelme's arrest in 2017.

"Kinahan partnered with Panamanian Anthony Alfredo Martínez Meza as well, shipping cocaine from Panama's port of Manzanillo to Spain. Martínez Meza was among those arrested in the latest Dubai sweep.

“The partners are also believed to have jointly invested in mega-shipments including the one containing almost 18 tons of cocaine seized in Philadelphia en route to the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam in 2019,” reports InSight Crime.

Richard Eduardo Riquelme Vega, known as `El Rico’

Authorities suspect he was responsible for the importation of up to 10 tons of cocaine into the European country in the past two years, along with Kinahan crony Ryan Hale.

Meza and Hale were recently arrested in a dramatic round-up of Kinahan associates in Dubai.

Kinahans secret South American links were revealed when top trafficker Edin ‘Tito’ Gačanin was also arrested in the UAE.

It emerged on Monday that 49 people were arrested as part of Operation Desert Light aimed at taking down the super cartel, including seven so-called ‘High Value Targets.’

Dual Bosnian-Duitch citizen and leader of a Balkans mob, Tito is wanted in The Netherlands and is the most senior Kinahan associate arrested in Dubai.

The super cartel is suspected of shipping a third of all cocaine into Europe in recent years, worth €30 billion, according to some estimates.

"In 2017, four men were photographed by undercover DEA agents while celebrating Daniel Kinahan’s wedding at the luxurious Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai,” reports InSight Crime.

Edin Gačanin

"They were Bosnian-Dutch Edin Gačanin, alias "Tito," Daniel Kinahan from Ireland, Dutch-Moroccan citizen Ridouan Taghi, and Raffaele Imperiale from Italy.

The publication says together, they represented “some of Europe’s largest criminal groups” and formed a dangerous super cartel.

The Kinahans themselves remain the most senior members who have not yet been arrested. This is despite a $5 million reward for information that would aid their arrests.

This week, a court in California approved an application for a fresh legal summons against Kinahan.

InSight Crime has questioned the crime gang’s capacity to evade authorities much longer as their legal troubles escalate: "Kinahan is the only one left outside. But how long he can avoid authorities with him and his family under US sanctions is up for debate.”

Kinahan – who is believed to be hiding out in Qatar – dodged a round-up of so-called ‘super-cartel criminals in Dubai earlier this week.

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