U.S., European agencies target Irish crime group led by boxing promoter

U.S., European agencies target Irish crime group led by boxing promoter

State Department offers $5 million reward to take down Daniel Kinahan

The Treasury Department has officially designated Daniel Kinahan’s Irish syndicate as a “significant transnational crime organization,” while the State Department has offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

To some, Daniel Kinahan is best known as a boxing promoter, with past ties to heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and legendary Las Vegas-based promoter Bob Arum.

But to law enforcement agencies, Kinahan is the boss of a family of Irish hoodlums headquartered in Dubai and tied to murder, drug and gun trafficking and money laundering.

Infamous in Ireland and the United Kingdom for more than 20 years, the Kinahan organized crime group has finally received the U.S. Treasury Department’s designation as a “significant transnational crime organization” worthy of strict sanctions, freezing all American-based bank accounts and property held by Daniel, his father Christopher Sr., brother Christopher Jr., four other Irish nationals and three family businesses.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrests of Daniel, his father and brother. The Kinahans, officials allege, engaged in murder, firearms trafficking and distributing South American-sourced cocaine and heroin within Ireland, throughout the U.K. and mainland Europe, hiding the proceeds through money laundering.

Daniel Kinahan, despite his identification by the High Court of Dublin as a peddler of cocaine and firearms, as recently as 2020 served as one of the world’s preeminent boxing promoters, having organized big-money bouts fought by the likes of Fury, Michael Conlan, Deontay Wilder, Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin.

Treasury officials in Washington announced the economic sanctions against the Kinahan clan on April 11, in collaboration with the State Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ireland’s national police An Garda Siochana, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency and the European Union’s Agency of Law Enforcement.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the international law enforcement agencies intend to “use every available resource” to take down the Irish syndicate, which operates a web of crime stretching from Ireland and the U.K. to Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

Until recently, Kinahan had close ties to British heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury.

“The Kinahan organized crime group smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering,” Nelson said. “Criminal groups like the KOCG prey on the most vulnerable in society and bring drug-related crime and violence, including murder, to the countries in which they operate.”

For his part, Daniel Kinahan has denied reports of ties to organized crime.

Family patriarch Christopher “Christy” Kinahan Sr. formed his family namesake’s criminal gang in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Dublin. Christy served a combined 12 years in prisons in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium for raps including cocaine and heroin trafficking and money laundering.

In 2014, a Mob war erupted when Christy directed hitmen to murder Gary Hutch – of Dublin’s Hutch gang of bank robbers and narcotics smugglers – in Spain during a dispute with South American drug rings. The rival Hutch clique in 2016 sent gunmen, several disguised as police officers and one dressed as a woman, to a boxing weigh-in attended by top Kinahan guys and dozens of spectators. As the crowd looked on, the Hutch torpedoes opened fire, killing a Kinahan gang member and wounding three. Daniel, who organized the weighing event for his fighters, escaped by leaping through a window.

In retaliation days later, the Kinahans hired four hitmen to attack and kill Eddie Hutch, brother of Hutch Mob chief Gerry “The Monk” Hutch.

The gang clashes resulted in 18 deaths, mainly members, relatives or associates of the Hutches, virtually wiping out the band. When Ireland police cracked down on the Kinahans, its top members left the country but maintained operations in Ireland, the UAE, U.K. and Spain.

The State Department reported that Daniel, aka “Daniel Joseph,” “Chess,” “D,” and “Cuz,” currently oversees drug running and money laundering by the group’s members living in Dubai, where they wash criminal profits through legitimate businesses.

Kinahan associates also targeted by the Treasury for sanctions include Irish natives Sean Gerard McGovern, Ian Thomas Dixon, Bernard Patrick Clancy and John Francis Morrissey. Treasury’s sanctions also go after Kinahan family-owned businesses Nero Drinks Co. Ltd., Hoopoe Sports LLC and Ducashew General Trading LLC.

For years, Daniel Kinahan successfully represented prizefighters with the management company he co-founded, MTK Global Agency, to fulfill major boxing contests (none of them within the United States). Fury was a client of his for several years. Daniel insists he left MTK Global in 2017.

Veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum, founder and CEO of Top Rank Inc., based in Las Vegas, parted ways with Kinahan, but not before paying $4 million to one of the Irish mobster’s companies to promote four boxing matches.

It took some time, however, for Fury to part ways with Daniel, who remained the fighter’s adviser until 2020. Fury openly praised Daniel’s role in planning a proposed high-profile fight with fellow British boxer Anthony Joshua in summer 2021 that fell through when an arbitrator ruled that Fury had to fight Wilder instead (Fury defeated Wilder in October).

Fury, the World Boxing Council champion when he beat Wilder, had his promoter, Arum, reveal the split with Kinahan to the news media in 2020. Arum made it sound like a friendly separation, without mentioning allegations about Kinahan’s links to organized crime.

“Myself,” Arum told The Telegraph newspaper in 2020, “and Fury will do all fight negotiations in the future. Dan is amenable and wished us luck.”

This month, Arum confirmed to Yahoo Sports that from 2019 to 2021, his Top Rank Inc. paid Kinahan, through the firm Hoopoe Sports, $4 million to promote four fights. Kinahan family associate and sanctions target Dixon is listed as the owner of Hoopoe Sports, Treasury officials stated.

Arum told Yahoo that he remembered Kinahan “called me and we had a long conversation. He has kids and he said he wanted to get out of that other stuff. He said to me, ‘Bob, I’ve done some bad things in my life. I admit that. But I’m not involved with that anymore. I’m just trying to clean up my life and be a legitimate businessman.’ I wasn’t involved in any of the things he might have done before, and he was telling me he wasn’t doing anything.”

The 90-year-old boxing promotion icon said he severed his professional relationship with Kinahan after the man started to intimidate him in conversations and he learned that Kinahan might “still have been involved in some nefarious activities. That was enough for us.”

Jeff Burbank is content development specialist for The Mob Museum. A longtime journalist and former university lecturer, he is the author of five books, including Las Vegas Babylon: True Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed; License to Steal: Nevada’s Gaming Control System in the Megaresort Age; and Lost Las Vegas. Contact him at jburbank@themobmuseum.org.