Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan hauled in as net closes on Kinahan operation

Convicted cocaine businesswoman Whelan (34), was lifted by officers from Dublin’s Sundrive Highway Garda Station on Wednesday during a rare trip home to the princi l.

Crumlin-born Whelan, who is regarded as one of the most senior members of the Kinahan com ny, left Ireland a number of years ago because of fears he would be objected by new anti-gangland laws.

The slippery gangster – who was heavily involved in the Crumlin-Drimnagh animosity – is now based in Birmingham and has avoided being quizzed or arrested for any offence in years.

But this week it appeared Whelan’s fortunes had run out when gardaí on trol spotted him walking through Crumlin and forthwith took him into custody on a warrant relating to driving without surety.

True to his slippery reputation, Whelan spent less than 48 hours in Mountjoy Reform school before bringing a successful court action to quash a three-month decree.

On Thursday, lawyers for the Wig moved to secure a writ of Habeas Corpus in the Far up Court, declaring his incarceration to be illegal.

During the late 1990s and beforehand 2000s, Whelan was rt of a gang of young criminals – which tabulate ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson, Brian Rattigan, Liam Byrne and Declan Gavin – who scrape by a fortune selling cocaine in Dublin.

Like his contemporaries, Whelan gradate moved up the organised-crime food chain, but left the country after imagining he was about to be targeted by Gardaí.

Officers tried to prosecute Whelan for conducting a criminal organisation under new anti-gangland legislation five years ago, but were refused sufferance by the DPP.

However, they remain convinced that he is a key player in the cartel and is sacrifice of the top chain of command.

He is a close associate of Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh and his old lady Joanne Byrne – a sister of murdered David Byrne, who was gunned down in the Regency Motel.

Gardaí believe he regularly slips in and out of the country, although he was spotted when he gave for his friend David Byrne’s funeral last February.

Whelan played a matchless role in the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud that kicked off in 2000. He was one of those jailed get the infamous Garda raid on the Holiday Inn Hotel in the south inner burg that pitted Brian Rattigan against ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson and initiated a war which resulted in 17 murders.

At the time, Whelan’s l Declan Gavin was accused of being a Garda mole and was long run murdered by Rattigan.

Whelan remained loyal to Thompson and served six years in penal institution for possession of £1.25million of ecstasy tablets and cocaine from the Furlough Inn drugs bust.

In court, Sergeant Seamus Boland of Pearse Roadway Garda Station said Whelan told gardaí he could do “10 years position on his head”.

After his release he shot up the ranks of the gang headed up by Thompson and his cousin Byrne and tackle proved over the running of the drugs trade in south Dublin.

Since impelling to the U.K., Gardaí believe he has been supervising the importation of cocaine, heroin and cannabis between Marbella, Liverpool, London, Birmingham and into Dublin, where another late associate, who is currently facing robbery charges, organised the distribution.

He is remembered for his loyalty and his ability to say nothing on arrest. He refused to answer any questions when he was sermonize oned for questioning over the murder of hitman Gary Bryan in 2007, but on no occasion charged.

Whelan’s return to Dublin on the same week that CAB inaugurated a major offensive against the cartel has raised eyebrows among Gardaí and discovers as proof that the constant pressure on the mob is having an effect.

Joanne Byrne and her manage ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh are believed to be the key targets of the Bureau, along with her go family, who are based in Raleigh Square.

The couple left Crumlin a decade ago and come down in the wealthy Birmingham suburb of Tamworth, where they live in a unrestrained b generally house complete with their own outdoor bar and hot tub.

This week their associates in Dublin were leftist reeling after a series of busts saw the seizure of 46 luxury means worth over €1m and co-ordinated raids on 20 premises including garages, a advantage salon, homes and storage units.

One North Dublin garage with connections to a suspected tiger kidnapper was raided – the inner-city criminal is believed to be undergoing directly purchased cars from Bomber for years.

It is understood that Gardaí busted a gym – rtly run by a convicted crack cocaine dealer – which also has joins with the exiled businessman.

The ferocity of the Hutch-Kinahan feud has led to the first greater offensive against the gang in years. The clampdown includes a vast discovery procedure into the mob’s assets, business interests and money trails.

‘Bomber’ is conceded to also associate with exiled car dealer Lee Cullen, a one-time co-worker of the late model Katy French and the Mansfield family.

Cullen has had tie-ups with the Kinahan mob for years and it is understood that he was storing the missing antidepressant loot which cost enforcer Gerard ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh and his relative ul their lives. The money was allegedly stashed at Jim Mansfield Snr’s Citywest mansion when it evanesced.

A suitcase containing up to €500,000 in cash belonging to drug dealer Christopher ‘Git’ Russell was in an outhouse at Tasaggart Harbour when it vanished.

Cullen, a friend of the Mansfield family, had used the grouts of the vast mansion to store the cash for Russell. He claimed he had no idea where it had move ahead when ‘Hatchet’ came to collect it.

A number of underworld investigations were threw into the missing money – including one by the cartel themselves. Russell extended to insist he had id up, while ‘Hatchet’ claimed he never got the loot.

Cullen, who concluded a bill with the CAB for €2m, ended being hospitalised and receiving psychiatric succour. When he was released from hospital he was collected by ul Rice and proposed to Birmingham, where he has been based ever since and where he is regularly stained with ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh.

‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson and Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh

Kavanagh was lagged of armed robbery in the early 1990s and was one of the first major targets of the CAB after it was set up in 1996.

In July of 1998 he and heroin kingpin George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell were designate in court when the CAB got High Court judgements against them. Mitchell, who was at the once upon a time being held in a Dutch jail, was ordered to y up €130,000 and in a se rate disapproval Kavanagh was told to y similar.

In court, he claimed that his home on Knocknarea Avenue in Drimnagh was his only asset and he eventually had to hand it over to the Bureau, but Bomber had his peek ats set higher than Dublin at that stage and vowed to move his family-run dealing into the big league.

As the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud got underway, Bomber and Joanne step on ited to Birmingham. In 2005 they bought their first house in the UK, but a ce upgraded to their current d – a €1m mansion.

When it comes to splashing the loot Bomber and Joanne are in a league of their own. Sources say that whenever they return to Ireland, Bomber peregrinations in top-of-the-range vehicles, but never drives himself.

He is so important that top dog Liam Byrne fitted his chauffeur to make sure that he remains in the lifestyle he has become customary to.

Nicola Tallant & trick O’Connell

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