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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Kinahan Cartel Had Significant Stake in Ireland's Largest 2 Ton Cocaine Seizure

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Gardaí believe the Kinahan Cartel had a significant investment in the €500 million cocaine shipment recovered from a cargo vessel off the Cork coast.

Crew members tried to burn the haul hidden in a lifeboat, which might have a street value as high as half a billion Euros, as the Army Ranger Wing boarded the MV Matthew via helicopter. Detectives are also investigating a possible link between the drug seizure and bales of cocaine that washed up on the Donegal shoreline in July.

There are also severe concerns the major drug bust will lead to bloodshed following the disruption to the operations of several crime gangs involved.

Six men – including a UK national, a Russian man, the Iranian captain of the vessel, and three others – were in garda custody after being arrested. A few days later, a 7th man was arrested in connection to the seizure following a search of the seas and ports around the area.

Detectives are continuing to interview the other 25 crew members, with further arrests expected as part of the wider investigation. The multi-agency operation involving garda, customs, and defense forces personnel had been in place for over a month, with the Irish Naval Service tracking the vessel since last week.

Mother Ship's Journey

Gardaí and Naval Service officials are now coordinating with Interpol and Europol amid fears the freighter was also making drug shipments to other European countries. The bulk carrier is owned via a shell company in China linked to the Marshall Islands and is managed by a marine operations firm based in the United Arab Emirates (where the Kinahan family and many other cartel figures are now based).

One source noted that it is the only vessel operated by that firm. It is registered in Panama but has spent a portion of recent months operating off South America and the Caribbean.

Maritime officials are now trying to pinpoint the precise movements of the freighter in the Caribbean - and why it apparently loitered for almost two weeks off the Canary Islands. Officials are also curious about why the name of the vessel was recently changed from MV Honman to MV Matthew.

One source confirmed that the ship left the waters of Venezuela on August 18. "That is significant because the seas around Venezuela are usually where the Colombian cartels load up their 'mother ships'. Three of the previous four major Irish drug shipments had connections to those waters," he said.

On August 18, the ship left waters off Venezuela and was last reported at Willemstad in Curacao in the Caribbean. It then crossed the Atlantic Ocean and sat near the Canary Islands off the African coast. It then skirted Spain and France before heading towards Ireland and the UK, finally entering Irish waters off the Cork coast.

The freighter issued an emergency alert to the Irish authorities indicating that its captain had been injured in a serious fall on board and required medical attention. A successful airlift brought the injured sailor to an Irish hospital where he was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Gardai also found $100,000 in the captain's bag - an Iranian national, who was arrested by Gardai. It's understood a nurse discovered the cash when he was brought to the hospital. Bizarrely, in the 48 hours before it was detained, the freighter also signaled that it was having engine trouble and required maintenance work in Cork Port.

However, the bulk carrier then abruptly headed towards international waters at high speed on Monday evening. This is believed to have occurred after it was realized the trawler which the freighter was expected to rendezvous with (and unload the cocaine) had run aground on a sandbank off the Wexford coast, prompting a major rescue operation on Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning.

Irish Army Ranger Wing soldiers rappelled from helicopters to detain crewmembers after the cargo ship failed to follow their instructions to stop.

The freighter was then intercepted by the Naval Service and detained by armed members of the Army Ranger Wing. Initial directions to the freighter to slow down and allow the vessel to be boarded were ignored and the Naval Service vessel had to fire warning shots across the bow of the 28,000-ton ship.

Trawler vessel that ran aground, likely en route to meet with the MV Matthew.

A major salvage operation is underway to recover a trawler that ran aground off Wexford just hours before the drugs 'Mother ship' carrying 2.2 tons of cocaine was detained by the Naval Service off the Cork coast.

The old trawler Castlemore - which had been purchased just the previous week in west Cork ran aground on a sandbank off Blackwater, Wexford, on Sunday evening triggering a major rescue operation. Its two crewmen were arrested while efforts were made to stop the MV Matthew cargo ship that would have supplied drugs to the smaller boat.

The Coast Guard Rescue 117 helicopter has returned to the scene of the trawler this morning and circled the sandbank off the Wexford coast. Divers are also set to be deployed both to examine the hull of the trawler and to inspect the area of the seabed around the vessel. This is to determine if any cargo was dumped from the trawler in the hours before rescue services arrived at the scene.

Over 2 Tons of Cocaine Seized

When the cargo vessel failed to stop, it was stormed by Army Rangers, who fired a warning shot before boarding. The massive haul had been stored on a lifeboat on the starboard side of the Mother Ship.

Attempts were made to set fire to bales of cocaine as the Rangers boarded. However, fire extinguishers were used to put out the blaze and it is understood the majority of the drugs were not damaged.

More than 2.25 tons of high-purity cocaine was recovered, valued at around €157m. However, the drugs would have been cut down, increasing the value three-fold, with some sources estimating the street value at up to €500 million.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Justin Kelly, from the Organised and Serious Crime Unit, described it as the biggest drug seizure in the history of Ireland. 

Kinahan Cartel Connection

Kelly also said the cocaine originated from a “murderous” South American gang and Irish crime groups who would have worked with other criminals. Samples of the drugs have been sent to the State Laboratory to try to determine their precise origin with Garda sources saying they expect the drugs to have been sourced from the Medellin area of Colombia.

Detectives believe the Kinahan Cartel invested in a part of the haul with other European crime gangs – with some, but not all, of the cocaine destined for the Irish market.

Gardaí have intelligence that the Kinahan group is not involved in day-to-day drug dealing in Ireland anymore but facilitates wholesale shipments into the country through their networks.

The main person in charge of this has previously been Sean McGovern, a close confidant of Daniel Kinahan, who is wanted in Ireland to face charges of murder and organized crime offenses.

It is understood that MV Matthew had Poland as its official destination, but gardaí are skeptical that was the final destination for the cocaine. Especially with the smaller trawler boat incident.


  1. Some people will die due to this.

    1. Capitan of the trawler that ran aground on the sandbar gots some explaining to do..
      The Iranian captain of the mother ship should thank his lucky stars hospital staff didn't give him a hotshot and cut up his walking around money amongst themselves..

  2. How many submarines does CDS have?

    1. Thousands but chapitoz and Mayo keep them on the down low.

    2. All you BB experts out there, what are the big cartels in Venezuela that can source this much coke?

    3. The Cartel de Soles is essentially ran by the Venezuelan government/military. Also, FARC dissidents operate out of Venezuela often. It seems like the shipment originated in Colombia and the route to the Atlantic is best via Venezuela. So might have just been transporters/middle men in Venezuela..

    4. There’s news that the Soles Cartel has sent military to the border regions to push back all Ex-FARC militia and paramilitary in general. When the president is the CEO, the business has unlimited resources to keep the underworld in check.

    5. If only we could get more info on Cartel del soles but I believe the corruption goes to the highest levels. We will have to wait for an informant.

    6. 11:59


    1. Jaja Mencho is strong but he's not that strong. Caps lock nino can you bring back 006. Try not to troll him too hard, he's sensitive.

    2. Its mayo zambada

    3. Actual guys Kinahans don't work with Mexican cartels they go direct.

  4. The Iranian connection is curious... Maybe the Kinahans really are hiding in Iran!

    1. Iran is a shit hole with overly aggressive moral police. That’d be like skipping school so you could spend time in the city library.

    2. It was speculated they were, but based on Irish police partnering with Dubai police now it seems they are still there and might be too risky to move around. They have a past in money laundering connections with Iran and groups supported by it.

  5. Fiends are jonesing right now ... laying there in a cold sweat having withdrawals

  6. Speaking of this area of the world in general, anyone watched the series "Gangs of London" on MAX? Two seasons done, interesting show so far.

    1. Nah I'm just not into gay theater . Not anymore.


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