Exposed: New leaked encrypted chats show how Kinahan cartel involved in €350m coke plot

The messages show how drug bosses openly referred to drugs deals, budgets and agreed on how to split the cargo

Anthony Alfredo Martínez Meza

Daniel Kinahan is believed to be a member of the 'super cartel'

Officers during the raids targeting the super cartel

Ricardo ‘El Rico’ Riquelme was arrested in his native Chile

Eamon DillonSunday World

The Kinahan Cartel were part of a plan to ship €350 million worth of cocaine to Europe in early 2020 through Spanish ports where workers had been bribed to collect the drugs, leaked phone messages have revealed.

Five separate shipments were set in motion to bring the drugs from South America through Panama and to the port at Barcelona.

Details of how the complex criminal ‘super-cartel’ operation worked have been revealed in copies of encrypted phone chats between the gangsters, according to Spanish news outlet NIUS.

The drug bosses openly referred to drugs deals, budgets and agreed on how to split the cargo believing their messages were completely secure.

They also show how they recruited IT workers, dockers, crane drivers and even the security guards at ports in Algeciras and Barcelona to get the shipments into Europe.

A 698-kilo shipment seized in routine search at Velancia in 2020 led to the break-up of the operation and to dozens of arrests in Spain and Dubai.

One of those arrested in Dubai as Part of Operation Desert Light was Ryan James Hale who was identified as ‘Robo’ by police in the intercepted messages.

The 32-year-old is suspected member of the Kinahan Cartel and set up a group chat with six other suspected drug traffickers to organise shipments of cocaine.

Hale’s quick rise to the senior ranks of the Kinahan Cartel left him worried about police attention and a plot by rival gangsters to kidnap, according to the intercepted messages.

Daniel Kinahan is believed to be a member of the 'super cartel'

“We are going to load 700 kilos today for Barça. Your part is 30% of the charge,” he wrote in on 28 February 2020.

A Bulgarian suspect agreed and said that his men would be in charge of getting the drugs out of the shipping container with arousing suspicion.

The intercepted messages included the gang’s own records they had spent €440,000 in bribes to ensure smooth passage for the shipments.

But the messages also show that things did not always go to plan for the drug traffickers.

At one point they wanted one of the shipments from South America to be delayed because they wouldn’t have anyone working in the port on the day it was due to arrive.

One worker in their pocket was on sick leave and it would be seen as suspicious if he turned up.

Police believe at the same time the criminal gang had five separate shipments on the move including 630 kilos due from Costa Rico, 1,200 kilos ready to go Rotterdam, another 2,000 kilos destined for Algeciras, and a smaller 90 kilos already shipped.

Officers during the raids targeting the super cartel

Also on the messaging group was Panamanian citizen, Anthony Alfredo Martínez Meza, who used the encrypted code "Letra" and the nickname Hassan in Encrochat.

His share of the consignment headed for Valencia was to be 130 kilos.

He sent a photo of a container taken at the Port of Manzanillo in Panama in which the 698 kilo shipment would be found writing: “The box has been sent to the scanner. The job will be finished in an hour."

The shipping container with a cargo of coffee had originated in Nicaragua and had been loaded with cocaine when it reached Panama.

Martínez Meza was one of those arrested in Dubai as part of an international police operation targeting Europe’s super-cartel.

He wrote "I shit on my fucking life" when it was discovered by the cartel their 698 kilo shipment had been found by Customs in Valencia.

He knew there were problems, according to the messages revealed by NIUS this week, telling the head of the “Irish group” he had been alerted by "the police" that the container was considered suspicious.

Martínez Meza operated under the radar in Panama for many years and was the registered owner of a number of legitimate companies in the seaport of Colon.

Ricardo ‘El Rico’ Riquelme was arrested in his native Chile

It is claimed Martinez struck a deal with Daniel Kinahan in 2017 after the arrest of Peruvian drugs lord Ricardo ‘El Rico’ Riquelme.

The pair are believed to have invested in mega-shipments, including the one containing almost 18 tons of cocaine seized in Philadelphia en route to Antwerp and Rotterdam in 2019.

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