By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
Irish mob boss Thomas “Bomber” Kavanagh was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Monday. He had pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. Authorities claim Kavanagh was a high-ranking leader within Dublin’s Kinahan Clan and was tasked with leading the group’s operations in the United Kingdom.
54-year-old Kavanagh was said to be involved in organizing the importation of multi-million pound drug shipments. He lived with his family in a fortified mansion, complete with reinforced doors and bulletproof glass, in Tamworth, Staffordshire, from where he ran his criminal empire.
When the National Crime Agency (NCA) raided the property in January 2019, officers found numerous weapons, including an illegal stun gun for which he was eventually given a three-year jail sentence.
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Officers also seized cash worth around £35,000 in various denominations, including sterling, euros and Emirati dirhams, which had been stuffed into drawers, bags and down the back of sofa cushions.
The raid was part of a wider investigation to dismantle his drugs empire, with NCA officers also targeting his associates – Dublin-born brothers-in-law Gary Vickery, 39, and Daniel Canning , 43. NCA investigators were able to evidence their involvement in large scale drug shipments worth around £30 million at UK street value, as well as movements of cash and firearms.
Kavanagh, Canning and Vickery all admitted conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering, while Canning also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition. Yesterday, Canning was jailed for 19 ½ years, and Vickery got a 20-year sentence.
The NCA’s investigation into Kavanagh’s network began in early 2016. In January 2017 Irish police linked a number of seizures of drugs and weapons to Midlands-based freight and logistics firms linked to Canning, Vickery and a third Irish man named Martin Byrne.
Vickery, Canning and Byrne were all arrested by the NCA in October 2017 following the seizure of 15 kilos of cocaine and more than 220 kilos of cannabis, found inside a six-ton industrial tarmac removal machine at Dover.
The drugs had been hidden inside the machine, which had a tracking device fitted and was due to be delivered to an industrial unit in Wolverhampton. This led NCA officers to raid two industrial units linked to the gang, one in Wolverhampton and one in Wednesbury.
In the Wednesbury address investigators found the shell of an industrial transformer, which still had traces of cocaine inside, as well as a black hold all containing a handgun and ammunition. Byrne’s DNA was found on the gun, and his fingerprints on the bag with was in. Investigators also found boxes full of tracking devices, identical to the one found on the machine seized at Dover.
Officers raided Vickery’s rented property in Boundary Lane, Solihull, where they recovered five 25 kilo barrels of boric acid powder – often used as a cocaine cutting agent – a cash counting machine, £43,000 sterling and 200,000 Euros cash.
Small amounts of cash and further phones and encrypted communications devices were found at Canning’s home in Dickens Heath. Information on those devices showed Kavanagh was heading up the criminal enterprise, with messages between the group referring to him as “the Gaffer”. He was also in contact with criminal contacts in Europe to orchestrate shipments.
Kavanagh was arrested at Birmingham Airport as he returned to the United Kingdom on January 12, 2019.
Communications between the group also provided evidence that they had been involved in at least four more drug importations prior to the Dover seizure in October 2017, bringing the estimated street value of cocaine importations by the group up to £23.4 million. Cannabis importations over the same period are estimated to have been worth around £6.4 million.
The trio pleaded guilty to the offences they were charged with in July 2020, though legal arguments, the Covid 19 pandemic and Vickery’s extradition from Lanzarote delayed their eventual sentencing. Martin Byrne died of cancer in August 2018 before he could be charged.
“Their main man in the UK”
“Kavanagh was a high ranking member of the Kinahan cartel, an organised crime group synonymous with acts of violence. He was their main man in the UK,” NCA Deputy Director of Investigations Matt Horne said. “Through their criminal connections overseas, his organisation was able to organise, import and distribute drugs worth many millions of pounds. These men considered themselves to be untouchable, but we were able to systematically dismantle the group and prove that this was not the case.”
Deputy Director Matt Horne added: “This investigation involved co-operation with An Garda Síochána in Ireland. We are determined to work together to target criminal networks impacting communities on both sides of the Irish sea. Our financial investigation into Kavanagh and his associates is ongoing, with a view to stripping them of any assets they have acquired through their criminality. This is not the end of our activity targeting this group.”
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