A KEY member of the Kinahan cartel helped his crime bosses launder a staggering €350,000 a day, according to Spanish police.
Detectives claim they have smashed the most important global criminal organisation in Spain specialising in cleaning dirty cash after arresting enforcer Johnny Morrissey at his Costa del Sol home.
They estimated the Irish passport holder — identified earlier this year by US authorities as a Kinahan enforcer — could have laundered over €200million in the last 18 months.
And in a fascinating insight into Daniel Kinahan’s mob, detectives revealed they believe the cash wasn’t physically moved out of Spain.
Instead, they say it was spread worldwide using an ancient money transfer system called ‘hawala’.
The informal method of moving money — which involves a network of brokers — is known to have been adopted by criminal gangs who use code numbers or tokens like banknotes torn in half to prove cash is due.
Morrissey is currently being held on suspicion of money laundering at his Costa del Sol home.
Wife Nicola was also lifted although she was released after a court appearance on Wednesday.
She’s the CEO of a Glasgow-based vodka firm called Nero Drinks that Spanish police are saying was used as a front.
She is thought to have been freed on bail and will remain under investigation.
Morrissey is the first of seven cartel members to be arrested since they were named by US officials as part of a major crackdown on the cartel in April.
The pair were pictured being led away in handcuffs, with Morrissey trying to cover his face and Nicola giving photographers the finger.
Yesterday, the Civil Guard released footage of baldy Manchester-raised Morrissey sat bare-chested in a pair of tropical shorts as police searched his home.
Officers were also filmed putting wads of confiscated cash through counting machines and searching cars at a separate address.
They were allegedly used to move cash and drugs in hidden compartments. A member of the Gardai was part of the global team of cops that arrested Morrissey.
Officers from Britain’s National Crime Agency, Europol and the US DEA law enforcement agency also took part in Monday’s swoop.
‘SOPHISTICATED CONCEALMENT SYSTEMS’
It followed a lengthy probe led by the Civil Guard Unit’s elite Central Operative Unit, responsible for the investigation and prosecution of the most serious forms of crime and organised crime.
Detectives said the starting point for the investigation was the seizure at the start of last year of 200kg of cocaine and nearly €500,000 in cash hidden in vehicles with “sophisticated concealment systems”.
One of the alleged members of the criminal group smashed by cops ran a second-hand car dealership.
Nearly a dozen searches took place in Spain and the UK. They include two Glasgow places thought to be related to Nero Drinks.
Today the Civil Guard told how Morrissey — who wasn’t named by cops — “devoted himself to collecting large amounts of money in cash from criminal organisations operating in our country and handing it through the hawala system to organised criminal groups in other countries and vice-versa”.
They added: “Investigators were able to corroborate that during the time the investigation lasted, he allegedly managed to transfer more than €200million.”
And outlining the role Nero Drinks played, the Civil Guard said: “The principal members of the organisation in Spain allegedly created a luxury vodka brand promoted at shows, parties and events at nightclubs and restaurants in luxury Costa del Sol environments, presenting it as a successful drinks brand.
“This couldn’t be further from reality because according to information from tax authorities, it couldn’t be funding the lifestyle of the people arrested.”
The crackdown was welcomed by Assistant Garda Commissioner Paul Cleary, from the Gardai’s Serious and Organised Crime.
He said: “The actions that have taken placed over the past few days in Spain, highlight the resilience and determination of international law enforcement to combine our resources to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks.
“An Garda Siochana will continue to work closely with all our international partners, targeting transnational organised crime gang who profit from drug trafficking and impact so negatively on our society and in particular those networks that cause the most harm to our communities here in Ireland.”
Morrissey was one of seven people sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in April.
They said Morrissey was so close to cartel boss Daniel he was invited to his wedding in Dubai in the summer of 2017.
The Americans said he’s worked for the cartel “for several years, including as an enforcer, and facilitates international drug shipments for the organisation from South America”.
Pointing out his involvement in money laundering, Morrissey was said to be “playing an integral part in organising the supply of drugs in Ireland” — the same statement attached to boss Daniel by the US.
Others named as part of a $5m appeal for info were Daniel’s dad Christy ‘Dapper Don’, his brother Christopher Jnr and Dublin-born criminal Bernard Clancy.
They also pointed the finger at Daniel’s “advisor and closest confidant” Sean McGovern and Ian Dixon who was arrested over the 2015 Costa del Sol murder of Gary Hutch but never charged.
Source: The Sun