Inside Ireland’s ‘Dapper Don’ Christy Kinahan and his alleged $1B drug empire that ‘feuded’ with Conor McGregor

As a young father of two in the early 1980s, Christy Kinahan wanted more out of life than driving a taxi in Dublin could provide.

The Irish patriarch’s obsession with wealth and success culminated in his metamorphosis into an international organized crime boss better known as the “Dapper Don” – à la his New York counterpart John “Teflon Don” Gotti.

Now he’s so notorious that the State Department has put a $15 million bounty on him and his two sons, the Treasury Department has sanctioned him, he has done business with El Chapo and Islamic terrorists, and his gang has allegedly feuded with UFC star Conor McGregor.

The State Department claims the Kinahans started smuggling heroin and cocaine, then laundered the proceeds into a $1 billion family business. The Drug Enforcement Agency is also involved in their pursuit.

Christopher Vincent Kinahan, Sr.
This is Christy Kinahan, Ireland’s “Dapper Don.” The State Department accuses him of being the leader of a $1 billion drug-smuggling empire who has done business with “El Chapo” and Lebanon’s ruthless Hezbollah.
Courtesy of the Irish Sun

Bob Arum, Daniel Kinahan
Daniel Kinahan, who the State Department say now runs the family cartel, photographed with boxing promoter Bob Arum. The elder Kinahan brother was a boxing promoter before US sanctions shut down his firm.
Courtesy of the Irish Sun

Christopher Kinahan, Jr.
Christopher Kinahan Jr. at a 2014 boxing-weigh in, two years after his brother Daniel launched MTK Global. There is a $5m reward for his capture.

The unlikely rise of the once-unassuming family man is revealed in a new podcast, “The Kinahans,” examining Christy’s 40-year evolution from taxi driver to one of the world’s leading cartel masterminds.

The hit podcast – released by The Irish Sun – dissects Ireland’s most notorious gang, allegedly led by Kinahan, now 66, and his two sons, Daniel Joseph, 45, and Christopher Jr., 42.

The nine-episode series features interviews with victims of Kinahan’s ascension to international drug lord – as well as exclusive details from former top cop Michael O’Sullivan, who led Ireland’s hunt for the suspected murderer, gunrunner, narcotics trafficker and money launderer.

The podcast hosted by Irish Sun columnist Damien Lane also delves into the Kinahans’ tentacles in boxing and mixed martial arts.

Joaquin Guzman
Kinahan’s cartel was also been linked to Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, according to reports in 2016. A former anti-narcotics chief in Peru said Kinahan was “without question” working with the Sinaloa Cartel.

In 2012, Daniel Kinahan founded boxing management company MTK Global, as an apparently legitmiate business.

It became embedded in the world of boxing, so much that in 2020 MTK represented WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and tried to orchestrate a title fight with former world champ Anthony Joshua.

Fury is now banned from entering the United States because of his ties to the Kinahans, his relatives have revealed.

Tyson Fury
WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was among some 250 fighters previously repped by MTK Global, Daniel Kinahan’s boxing management company that ceased operations last year.
Action Images via Reuters

The cartel now has links to international terror groups like Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, for whom the drug lords are carrying out money laundering, The Irish Sun revealed.

The cartel also had ties to Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the Sinaloa Cartel, The Irish Independent reported in 2016. A former anti-narcotics chief in Peru said Kinahan was “without question” working with the global crime syndicate.

And in 2017, it was alleged that UFC champion Conor McGregor was involved in a pub brawl in a Dublin suburb with an associate of Graham “The Wig” Whelan, one of Kinahan’s gangsters. McGregor’s sister is now a friend of Whelan.

Conor McGregor
In 2017, UFC legend Conor McGregor allegedly assaulted an associate of Kinahan gangster Graham “The Wig” Whelan, during a dust-up at a bar in a Dublin suburb.
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

In episode one, “Silent Partner,” Kinahan’s insatiable gangland ambition begins behind the wheel in Dublin, where heroin from Afghanistan peddled by notorious Irish drug dealer Larry Dunne flooded city streets, creating tens of thousands of young of addicts in the early 1980s.

“Russians had invaded Afghanistan, and as a result, a lot of heroin from Afghanistan found its way to Europe, and there was a big heroin problem occurring in the UK,” O’Sullivan told Lane.

Within a few years, Dublin’s working-class neighborhoods were teeming with new drug users, thanks to Dunne’s access to cheap heroin.

“It was a ready-made market,” O’Sullivan continued. “Ironically, one minute in the early 80s, there was no heroin available. And the next minute, it was everywhere. It devastated the inner city, it deprived communities. Whole families were on drugs.”

Daniel Joseph Kinahan
Daniel Kinahan arrives in Dublin for the 2016 funeral of Kinahan cartel lieutenant David Byrne, who was killed during an attack by a rival Irish gang led by Gerry “The Monk” Hutch at the Regency Hotel.

Sullivan said the “devastating” heroin epidemic took the entire country of Ireland, including law enforcement, by surprise.

Kinahan, then living in Dublin’s blue-collar Phibsborough section, saw his opening in 1983 when Dunne – who controlled an estimated 95% of Ireland’s heroin trade – was arrested and sentenced in 1985 to 14 years in prison for drug trafficking.

With Dunne behind bars, Kinahan recognized his opportunity. Instead of earning an honest living as a taxi driver, the married young father’s focus soon turned to petty crimes like car theft, burglary and check fraud, Irish Sun crime editor Stephen Breen said.

“Although living in a middle-class background, he just was someone who fell into the world of crime because he lost interest in school as he grew older,” Breen said.

Wanted poster for Christy Kinahan Sr.
The State Department made the Kinahans wanted men.
Wanted poster for Christy Kinahan Jr.
The DEA is involved in trying to find them.

The “low-level criminal” then ramped up through an associate who got Kinahan an introduction to drug dealers after studying how they operated. The aspiring large-scale dealer was intent on getting his slice of the burgeoning heroin market. He soon helped arrange heroin shipments into Ireland, O’Sullivan said.

“He knew he could establish a supply network, and keeping himself in the background, he knew he could make vast profits,” the former top cop said.

The ambitious Kinahan had become Ireland’s biggest supplier of heroin by 1986. The relatively unknown narcotics dealer rented a modest apartment in a Dublin suburb, where he posed as an English businessman. The apartment served as Kinahan’s base to store heroin while he distributed vast amounts to street dealers, O’Sullivan said.

Christy Kinahan
Christy Kinahan
Facebook/ Courtesy of the Irish Sun
The original Dapper Don, New York mob boss John Gotti.

Christy Kinahan
Kinahan fled Europe for Dubai, where he lived beyond the arm of extradition treaties with his native Ireland, but is now wanted by the State Department.
Courtesy of the Irish Sun

“Chris Kinahan saw the profits as I say, so he made efforts to establish himself as a kingpin and supplier, although a silent partner in the supply of heroin to Dublin,” the former Garda assistant commissioner continued.

To keep up his ruse as an English businessman behind the new wave of heroin flooding Dublin, Kinahan drove a red sports car and dressed impeccably, prompting his “Dapper Don” nickname.

Kinahan was arrested later in 1986 after being caught with $150,000 worth of heroin in Dublin, a “very large quantity at the time,” according to the Irish Times. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Being locked up didn’t stop Kinahan though. Behind bars he got his own computer and used it to hone his skills as an international drug trafficker.

There were blocks of cash found in a Spanish police raid on a suspected Kinahan hideout.
There were blocks of cash found in a Spanish police raid on a suspected Kinahan hideout.
Civil Guard

Guardia Civil raid
Spanish police who raided a suspected Kinahan hideout stripped it bare as they searched for drugs and money.
Civil Guard

In episode two, “The Seeds of The Cartel,” the podcast tells how he left Ireland when he was released and shifted his operations to the United Kingdom, Holland and Belgium while expanding his criminal network.

The podcast also examines Kinahan’s sons, Daniel and Christy Jr., known by the aliases “Chess” and “Mano,” respectively.

Daniel has replaced his father as the leader of the cartel’s operations, the State Department alleges. The elder Kinahan brother has denied being a gangster, telling TalkSPORT in 2021: “I am not part of a criminal gang or any conspiracy.”

The Kinahan cartel initially trafficked cocaine and heroin from South America throughout Ireland, but later expanded to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, where the crime group allegedly orchestrated schemes involving money laundering, firearms trafficking, and murder, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Regency Hotel raid in Dublin 2016
A fake SWAT team armed with AK-47s stormed a Dublin hotel in 2016 during a boxing weigh-in tied to the Kinahans. One of their top lieutenants was killed, sparking a bloody gangland feud in which the Kinahans are alleged to have killed 10 rivals.

Gunmen disguised as a SWAT team stormed Dublin’s Regency Hotel on Feb. 5, 2016, killing Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne.
Courtesy of The Irish Sun

In April 2022, the agency announced rewards totaling $15 million for information leading to the arrest of Kinahan and his two sons.

The joint bounty by the United States, Ireland’s police, known as An Garda Síochana, and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency came in conjunction with the Department of Treasury announcing sanctions against the Kinahans as foreigners in the global drug trade.

Irish police had prioritized to “systematically degrade and dismantle” the cartel and its multimillion-pound shipments of drugs since a guerrilla-style assassination attempt of Daniel Kinahan at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said last spring.

Kinahan cartel lieutenant David Byrne died in the shocking assault rifle-attack when a fake SWAT team from — a rival Irish gang led by Gerry “The Monk” Hutch — stormed a boxing weigh-in.

Arrest of Johnny Morrisey, Spain
Authorities from six agencies, including the Spanish Civil Guard, arrested Johnny “Cash” Morrissey, a top Kinahan enforcer, in September on the Costa del Sol, Spain. The 62-year-old insists he’d rather do 20 years in prison than cross the cartel, The Irish Sun reported.

Arrest of Nichola Morrisey in Spain
Morrissey’s wife Nichola was also arrested, and accused of being part of the criminal empire. Her husband was sanctioned by the US Treasury amid claims he laundered $350,000 a day.

Days later the Kinahans started a revenge spree in Dublin, killing Hutch’s brother, Eddie and nine others, according to The Irish Sun.

Spain’s national police, the Guardia Civil, have also rounded up alleged Kinahan lieutenants, including Johnny Morrissey, who was identified by the Treasury Department as a key figure.

He was reported to be able to launder $350,000 a day but was seized at his hideaway in Malaga with his wife in a daring raid last year.

“There have been no criminal charges against the Kinahans,” a State Department spokesperson told The Post. “Nevertheless, the reward is offered for information leading to a future arrest and/or conviction of the Kinahans for participating in or conspiring to participate in, transnational organized crime.”

Daniel Kinahan allegedly runs the cartel’s sprawling enterprise from Dubai, which has no extradition treaty with Ireland, thwarting any attempt thus far to hold the cartel accountable in court, Sky News reported in February.

This article was originally posted here