desert storm | 

Key Kinahan associate among six arrested in Dubai in ‘super cartel’ crackdown

It emerged on Monday that 49 people were arrested as part of Operation Desert Light aimed at taking down the super cartel.

Officers during the raids targeting the super cartel

Edin Gačanin

Kinahan cartel boss Daniel Kinahan

Officers during the raids targeting the super cartel

Eamon DillonSunday World

A KEY Kinahan Cartel operator has been arrested in Dubai as part of the sweeping international police operation aimed at the super cartel.

The 32-year British national, Ryan James Hale was among six people arrested in the city-state and is wanted by Spanish authorities.

The investigation in Spain started with a massive cocaine seizure in 2020 with vital intelligence being gained when French and Belgian police then cracked an encrypted messaging service.

Intercepted messages on the SKY ECC system showed a person called Robo taking an interest into how a 698-kilo cocaine shipment was seized at Valencia port in March 2020.

Spanish police later identified Robo as Ryan James Hale who wanted to know if the €53 million consignment had been stolen by a rival gang or found by the authorities, according to El Pais.

The 32-year-old is described as having previously lived in luxury in Marbella when profits were invested in mansions, jewellery and top-end sports cars, including a €300,000 Lamborghini.

Officers during the raids targeting the super cartel

However, his meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the Kinahan Cartel left him worried about police action and a plot by rival gangsters to kidnap, according to the intercepted messages.

He is alleged to have worked closely with a Panamanian citizen, also living in Dubai, who is alleged to have organised shipments from Manzanillo port in the central American country.

Spanish police say the group managed to send 10 tons of cocaine worth €760 million through the country in the space of just two years.

However, Spain was only one of the countries where ports were used to ship cocaine consignments from South America, with Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in The Netherlands also being used.

Record levels of cocaine have already been seized in both ports this year.

Hale is regarded by Spain’s Civil Guard as the leader of the group based in that country where an arm of the criminal gang was also devoted to money laundering.

Kinahan cartel boss Daniel Kinahan

The move is another major blow against the Kinahan Cartel following the arrest of Johnny Morrissey last September in Spain.

The veteran British criminal is considered a key figure in the Kinahans’ operation and is thought to have been laundering as much as €350,000 a day from his Malaga base.

Morrissey is among the seven people sanctioned by the US including Christopher Kinahan sr, his two sons Daniel and Christopher jr, along with Ian Dixon, Sean McGovern and Bernard Clancy.

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.’

The most senior gangster arrested in Dubai is Daniel Kinahan associate Edin ‘Tito’ Gacanin, a dual Bosnian-Duitch citizen and leader of a Balkans mob who is wanted in The Netherlands.

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

Details of the police operation were announced by Europol and took place earlier this month involving four EU countries along with the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Edin Gačanin

The co-operation of the police in the UAE has been singled out as major factor in allowing the operation to take place.

Other significant members of the cartel Ridouan Taghi and Rafaelle Imperiale were previously arrested in Dubai and extradited to The Netherlands and Italy respectively where they are facing charges.

Ricardo 'El Rico' Riquelme Vega a Dutch-Chilean trafficker and one of Daniel Kinahan’s closet criminal contacts got an 11 year sentence last year.

Only the Kinahans remain as the most senior members who have not yet been arrested despite a $5 million reward for information leading to their arrests.


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