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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Chapitos' Relative Morris O'Shea-Salazar Tied to Recent 500 Kilo Meth Bust and Multi-Ton Cocaine Shipments into Ireland

"Socalj" for Borderland beat

Irish Gardai arrested suspected members of a Sinaloa Cartel cell operating in Ireland following a nearly €33 million crystal meth seizure last week. It is suspected the drugs were ultimately destined for Australia where it could go for three times higher than the street value in Ireland.

Sunday World, an Ireland-based news outlet that historically has tracked Irish and Spanish organized crime, including the Kinahan and Super Cartels received multiple files with police evidence stemming from encrypted EncroChat messages and surveillance of Morris O'Shea-Salazar and his associates.

Morris is a second cousin of "Los Chapitos" Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo. It is believed he now resides in Mexico following a series of arrests and busts of his network in Chile, Spain, the Netherlands, Dubai, and now Ireland.

The Irish-Mexican man has progressed up the ranks of the Sinaloa cartel in recent years, as other senior figures were jailed or ill. He is now regarded as a person of significant power and influence in the group according to Irish Gardaí.

Australia Bound Meth Bust

In a statement, gardai said: “Following a joint operation at Cork Port between An Garda Síochána and Revenue’s Customs Service, a substantial drugs seizure was made on Friday, 16th February 2024.

“Gardai along with Revenue Officers seized 546kg of a synthetic drug, with an estimated value of €32.8 million. The value of the drug seizure is based on the street value in Ireland. The massive drug bust took place at Cork Port after the narcotics were found inside a shipping container. 

Gardai does not believe the seizure was for Irish distribution. A kilo of crystal meth is believed to cost around €200,000 in Australia.

It is believed the massive haul was initially sent from Mexico where crystal meth is commonly produced before arriving in Ireland. Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug that is not widely used in Ireland. Cocaine, heroin, and hashish have been the drugs that have helped skyrocket Irish traffickers the Kinahan family.

Follow-up searches performed with the help of the Irish Army in Cork and Kerry including one at a business premises led to the seizure of two firearms and the arrest of two men. Nathan McDonnell, and James Leen, are both in their 40s and are currently being held on charges of possession of methamphetamine. 

Nathan McDonnell appearing in court (left) and James Leen covered his face entering the courtroom.

Nathan McDonnell is a businessman in the Tralee area and was being groomed to become a politician. He is the CEO of a local chain of garden center stores called Ballyseedy Garden Centre in Kerry, and a Smash Burger restaurant. 

He also has political/business connections as he was the former president of the Tralee Chamber Alliance in 2021. During his two-year tenure, he helped launch a bid to have the FIA World Rally Championship held in Kerry in 2025. McDonnell was allegedly being primed to run for election by former Minister Jimmy Deenihan. The court was told that he is a director of 11 companies with funds of €4.4million. He had relinquished control of these businesses, which would be liquidated, therefore reducing his ties to Kerry.

One of the Ballyseedy Garden Centre locations where the hidden meth was stored for transportation to Australia.

CCTV footage allegedly shows McDonnell loading the machine loaded with the half-ton of meth in a container for transport. Authorities said it has phone data allegedly containing details of the arrival of this machine to an ‘innocent person’ in Australia.

Sgt. Griffin said the State believes that McDonnell received and stored the machine in Ballyseedy and that he was to be paid €150,000 for storing the machine.

James Leen

James Leen is charged additionally with the importation of that meth in October 2023. Gardaí said they believed the purpose-built electromagnetic separator machine had been brought into Ireland from Mexico at that time and stored by McDonnell. Leen is suspected of directing this illegal operation and it was their belief that Leen was a ‘serious logistics figure’ for an organized crime group.

James is the son of politician Billy Leen, a former Sinn Fein Councillor. The Sinn Fein party was a precursor to the IRA and similar groups. James had beaten up a farmer in 2002, kicking the man in his head. He received several years in prison after he violated his parole when he and his sister brutally assaulted a woman in her home over remarks she made in a pub to the effect that his father was a pervert and a child molester. He later threatened a witness to that attack. He has also been in court for cocaine use.

Morris O'Shea-Salazer, known as "Mexican Morris"

He has previously been named alongside Morris O’Shea Salazar in Spanish police documents as being part of the Los Chapitos faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. With whom they conspired to smuggle up to 6 tons (€480 million) of cocaine into Europe in just one year. Morris and Leen had been under heavy surveillance back in 2020 in Spain.
Morris is supposedly the godfather to two of Leen's kids.

Gardaí said James Leen had spent a considerable time in Colombia recently (though it was not stamped on his passport), the United Arab Emirates, and Romania.

Much of the communications to coordinate these shipments, money transfer meetings, and logistics are now available due to the 2020 EncroChat interceptions by authorities. Leen went by ‘Cu Chulainn’, while O’Shea Salazar went by ‘Sin City Gold’. 'Cu Chulainn' was also seen to have been selling grenades and guns via EncroChat. Two firearms were recovered during Garda raids following the seizure.

A truck is viewed with large pallets with loads of cocaine.

EncroChat Communications

UK, French, and Dutch police had broken into EncroChat’s service in 2020, putting a piece of malware onto servers that would allow authorities to stop the panic wipe feature of the phones. And allow them to access messages, and record lock screen PINs.

By April 2020, European agencies had access to millions of text and hundreds of thousands of images. Under the codenames Operation Venetic (NCA) and Eternal (Metropolitan police), agencies began to analyze data and alert local law enforcement agencies across the globe.

Almost immediately, the Guardia Civil applied to bug and film the implicated Irish men residing in Barcelona. Requests were put into airlines for the flight details of Morris O’Shea Salazar and his glamorous girlfriend, Yuliana Brand Gomez, as they moved between Mexico and Europe.

In their secret files, Spanish cops included photographs of the interior of the gangsters’ homes as well as photos of them relaxing on rooftops in the Middle East. They also noted the “high-end lifestyles” of the alleged cocaine smugglers, as they checked into an endless list of hotels.

Officers spent days taking surveillance photos and videos of O’Shea Salazar and his crew. They were seen hosting meetings in cafés on Rambla Guimera in Barcelona’s Alella district. They had arrived in a high-end, luxury BMW.

For international travel, the Irish Sinaloa boys and their women used false identities to evade detection. They were video recorded taking numerous flights to Lisbon and Amsterdam in particular, as cops built up a picture of their alleged worldwide drug smuggling operation.

One lower-level gang member was detained after moving 30 kilos of marijuana on his person while under police surveillance. The hack of their encrypted devices also leads to a treasure trove of photographs on the crew’s personal devices.

Each member had their own unique Encrochat identity, including the three Irish truck drivers, who went by the names “BB” “Owlbetty” and “Ironic Sugar.”

O’Shea called himself “Sin City Gold.” The businessman went by “Rough Diamond” while his right-hand man from Kerry used “Cu Chulainn.”

Other gang members include “Dior 6”, “Purelove”, “Notorious cleaner” and “Milito”. These gang members were based in places such as Pier 188 in Antwerp, Liverpool, and Valencia, where a new port terminal had been opened. In the intercepted messages, the Irish Sinaloa crew said they “owned” this new facility at Valencia.

For example, the company Nestlé was unknowingly used “to introduce cocaine from the Port of Santos to Valencia, as containers of this company have not been searched for 20 years and are never reviewed because it is a green channel.”

Trafficking routes of the Irish-Sinaloans.

"Meet you at the workshop near the hotel. Sant Celoni next to the Aldi on Tuesday, April 28,” EncroChat user ‘Ironic Sugar’ tells O’Shea.

On May 20, 2020, two Irish-Sinaloan cartel members met in the Roca del Valles industrial estate in Barcelona, according to police intelligence files.

An Irish truck driver using the EncroChat handle 'Ironic Sugar' handed over €590,000 to the Encrochat user known as ‘breakborder’ in, what appears to be, one large parcel. The Spanish police files state: “It would be the driver who is in charge of transporting drugs owned by Morris O’Shea to Ireland, England, and Italy, camouflaged among the legal cargo of various trailers."

These men were trusted to transport the cash back to O’Shea Salazar in payment for the cocaine shipments to Ireland and the user told him that the deposit of the new shipment would cost €22,000.

"In the next load, he says they will make €500k, ‘300 for your man in the UK and 200 for yours’. He tells him that from then on they will always make 500k.”

The intelligence files show images of €50 cash blocks stacked up in cardboard boxes.

O'Shea immediately sends the images to his uncle Ricardo Salazar, who at this time is based in Chile. “I already have Chapito’s money,” he wrote.

This text provided Spanish investigators with confirmation, which could be used as evidence in a court case, that Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, O'Shea's second cousin, was at the apex of what they were uncovering.

“Simon is there with you,” Ricardo tells his nephew. “Do the logistics and give the price where they want it and so on,” he says. “Who is going to import it here, if you or your friend you are talking to have it or we look for who will import it or how they want to invoice.”

Salazar receives numerous messages for refueling payments from drivers at a variety of truck stops, including one outside Valencia.

Gang members send Encro images of containers entering the port system, with specific shots of bar codes and door codes so the receivers don’t go wrong. After the drugs were removed from the back of the vehicle, the legal consumer goods, fish in one case, were taken to an incineration facility in Eastern Europe to be burned.

"At the same time, it is observed how the majority of the members of this organization employ third parties to carry out a series of transactions, obtaining plane tickets, etc, to avoid being detected.

Another example is a record of a conversation between O’Shea Salazar and the Irish man who was just arrested over the €33m seizure of crystal meth at Cork Port.

According to police, they discussed on April 16, 17, and 18, 2020 how to “specify the data necessary for loading a truck with drugs in Malaga, even talking about the disposition of the drugs in the pallets that the truck transports.

Salazar says: “I have the oranges in Cordoba, this one is for Alicante.”

The reply comes back: “Tennis transport brother for this week.”

Salazar then says: “I’m already working on it but the one from Benacassim can’t leave until after the quarantine."

"Mexican Morris"

One of the Irish men arrested during the large meth bust in Spain is believed to be a key associate of dual Irish-Mexican citizen Morris O’Shea Salazar, 33, who is accused of being a leading member of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel for Europe.

Chilean investigators have wanted to extradite O’Shea, who was nicknamed "Mexican" when he was growing up in Killorglin in Kerry, from Mexico to Chile to face serious charges. 

A court in Chile accepted the request of the Prosecutor’s Office to extradite O’Shea Salazar who is described as an “important member of the Sinaloa cartel.” The Tarapacá Prosecutor's Office requested that an extradition request be filed against him, and it was “formalized in absentia” for the crimes of illicit drug trafficking and illicit association.

They want to charge him over an alleged plot to set up a cell of the cartel in northern Chile in 2020 that was being managed by his mother Yolanda Salazar Tarriba and Uncle Ricardo Salazar, first cousins of "El Chapo's" first wife, María Alejandrina Salazar Hernández, the mother of "Los Chapitos" Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar.

Undercover Operation in Chile

Yolanda Salazar Tarrib and her brother Ricardo acquired a little more than 61 kilos of cocaine which were due to be sent to Europe as samples for potential buyers. The Salazar-Tarriba group was infiltrated by the Chilean Civil Police after information was provided by the DEA. This is the first time that the presence of the Sinaloa Mexican cartel in Chile has been confirmed. The investigation prevented the entry of 6 tons of Bolivian cocaine into Chile.

According to the investigations, Ricardo entered the country in 2020 and moved through Iquique and Santiago. For more than 12 months, he used false identities but managed to be captured in hundreds of images, videos, and wiretaps since February 2020. He had a surgical problem that led him to undergo surgery at a private center known as Clínica Santa María. Faced with this difficulty, Yolanda arrived in December of the same year and was partially in charge of the operation.

Supposedly, the undercover officers secured a false shipment transported by sea to the Netherlands and arrived there on March 5. Everything was documented to determine how the criminal organization worked and not cause suspicion.

In Europe, the container was searched by the authorities and then the alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel gave up their business and tried to escape from Chile. But they were detained at the Santiago airport.

In March 2021, Ricardo and Yolanda Salazar Tarriba were arrested and charged as they attempted to flee. However, prosecutors claim it was not possible to detain Morris O'Shea, despite “coordination” between the Chilean Prosecutor's Office and the Spanish Civil Guard.

The Kinahan Cartel, originally from Ireland and now based possibly still in Dubai after leaving Spain and Ireland around 8 years ago, has maintained links to the Sinaloa cartel for over a decade. It is believed by authorities that the Kinahans and Sinaloa Cartel had direct communications links to arrange shipments of cocaine.


  1. Really good read 👍 appreciate the coverage

  2. Very interesting article. Good reading. Thank you BB!

  3. Very professional and informative article. 👍🏾

  4. Banging article Socalj

  5. Great article. Excellent work.

  6. These encrochat busts just keep going criminals around the world really learned there lessons with these so called secure phones. Theres no such thing as a secure device I don't care what you think you know.

    1. Please Encrochat was just an example of laziness and not understanding technology. 100% there are apps like signal that use end to end encryption that no one can crack until they figure out quantum computing but at that point every government on earth is screwed because encryption is how practically everything is kept safe. Put a long enough password on any encrypted phone and even if you put a backdoor that lets take unlimited shots it could literally take 100 years to brute force entry into the phone.

    2. 407 lol keep lying to yourself

    3. I forgot which operation recently that got busted using signal.

    4. 2:28 I hope your a criminal.

    5. 2:28 signal is a centralized server that alone should be enough to tell you not to use signal.

    6. Well with those prices you don’t seem to have to worry about people becoming fiends cause you can’t afford to

  7. Incredible research and article - this is quality you’d see in the NYT. Saludos to Socalj and the BB writers.

  8. Ese morris se pasea en culiacan con una pistola engravada con la foto de mcgregor hace dias lo ví en una tienda yo si sabía que era el pero parece que en culiacan pasa por otro Sinaloa mas nadie lo reconoce

    1. Seguramente y tomando puro Guiness

    2. Y le encanta el cereal lucky charms

    3. are you the fella who lives a block from AMLO?? asking for a friend of a friend

  9. Chapitos can't cut it outside of Mexico

    1. What do you mean? They’re obviously international

    2. 457 Chapitos can't cut it outside of Mexico and more or less have ran they're fathers organization into the ground. Sorry man find some one else to cheer for.

    3. How do you know pretty they pop left them solid contacts

    4. 5:59 yeah he did lol sorry that that your Jalisca boys can’t do the same

    5. That’s funny, considering this is an article about a drug trafficker I bet very people even knew about. A fkn Irish, cousin to the Guzman’s, that runs the drug trade in Europe….yeah, that screams “they can’t cut it out side of Mexico” lmfao….

    6. 7:18 and this is just one of them, imagine how many more there are that we don’t know about.

    7. 7:18 7:08 just puffing each other off talking about your favorite snitch cartel that can't make it out of Mexico

  10. Lmao. wtf that’s some Narco novela type of story. An Irish cousin, of a big Mexican cartel boss players? That’s crazy..

    1. It doesn't get better than this. The wee lad best start praying to the Leprechaun clan.

      Canadian girl 💋

  11. He's director of operations for Northern Hemisphere CDS affairs and cartel attaché for the Eurozone.

  12. CDS international with it and even the homie looks like a hybird of the Chapitos!! bloodline is strong like that! thats why they are who they are! JEFES

    1. Hybrid Ivan you can see the resemblance

  13. Excelente artículo 🫡gracias por estas notas .

  14. Perfect writer needs promotion


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