Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh and his senior Irish associate ‘Mr Nobody’ enjoyed a celebratory trip to the United States just weeks before Operation Garda that would bring down their criminal network.
avanagh (54), described as ‘the main man in the UK’s Kinahan cartel’, was jailed this week for 21 years for leading a drug gang that imported £36million worth of cocaine and of cannabis in England in one year.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has been made aware of the front companies used by the gang after Gardaí found documents in a cartel weapons warehouse in Dublin.
The raid, in January 2017, led to the seizure of 15 weapons and the indictment of four men, including Declan Brady, a secret criminal known as “Mr Nobody”.
Gardaí believe he was ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh’s key associate in Ireland and oversaw the gang’s logistical network here.
A few weeks earlier, the associates had traveled to New York with 10 other men and were photographed together “celebrating”.
The image, obtained by Independent.iewas retrieved from the phone of Gary Vickery who was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison for his leading role in Britain’s drugs ring.
In a WhatsApp message, Vickery (39) also wrote under the image: “Haha, it’s worth it”.
NCA investigators noted in their filing that the group appeared to be in New York and had gathered “in apparent celebrations.”
A smiling Declan Brady can be seen in the photo, taken in November 2016, but just two months later he is believed to be handcuffed after being arrested in the Greenogue Industrial Estate with the arsenal of weapons.
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Brady is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence in connection with the seizure and for money laundering offences.
Among the evidence seized from Greenogue’s bust were documents linked to a British logistics company in the Midlands linked to Vickery and Daniel Canning, jailed for 19.5 years for his role in the plot.
Following the tip, the NCA placed the unit under surveillance, which would lead to the discovery of the criminal network and the imprisonment of the key men.
Investigations established that Canning (43) made 26 flights across Europe in a year to oversee drug shipments for the gang.
When arrested by the NCA, Gary Vickery said he was introduced to Declan Brady by mutual friends, there were times when they socialized in a large group and he spoke to him to buy and sell vehicles.
When police searched his Midlands home, they also found numbers of SIM cards linked to tracking devices seized from Greenogue.
As part of the major investigation, the NCA also established that in May 2017, Kavanagh traveled to Dubai, where the Kinahan Cartel hierarchy is based.
The agency’s deputy director, Matt Horne, this week described “Bomber” as a senior associate of the cartel and their “main man in the UK”.
A total of 26 messages sent by him were discovered in which he directed his subordinates to the location of drug collections and cash payments.
It was called ‘The Gaffer’ while secret passwords were also used including ‘Paper’ for money and ‘TNT’ for cocaine.
In the last message retrieved, a clearly frustrated Kavanagh tells Vickery: “We ain’t got nothing to do with say liar after say. D hole week just lies and more lies…”.
He was also found to be in contact with Nikolaj Wall, a German national who oversaw the drug operation in mainland Europe for the gang. Wall is currently being held in Germany.
The inner workings of the gang’s drug ring have been exposed at Ipswich Crown Court with details of their transport routes, how they disguised their shipments and the codenames they used to operate under the radar.
They had connections in seven countries, but their operation was foiled when £4million worth of drugs were discovered hidden in a tarmac removal machine in the port of Dover.
The NCA identified 22 other imports and it was inferred that between October 2016 and October 2017, the criminal group imported between 600 kg and 800 kg of cannabis and 292 kg of cocaine, with a maximum total market value of almost 30 million pounds sterling (36 million euros).
Another key member of the gang was a mysterious Pole living in Dublin, nicknamed “Ziggy”, who organized GPS trackers and owned a business in Barcelona where drug payments were sent.
Irishman Martin Byrne was also involved in unloading the drugs and loading the money.
DNA also linked him to a gun seized from the gang’s warehouse, but he died of lung cancer in 2018.