A senior member of an Irish transnational crime gang has been arrested in Spain for suspected gun running, Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) announced on Monday.
Liam Byrne, 42, from Dublin – described by the UK law enforcement agency as "one of the most trusted members of the Kinahan organised crime group" – was arrested in Spain on Sunday evening.
Based out of Dubai, the Kinahan cartel, led by Irishman Daniel Kinahan among others, has been linked by US and European authorities to a vast criminal enterprise encompassing drug smuggling and money laundering.
Byrne was arrested while he ate with family in a restaurant on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
He had flown into the Mediterranean holiday destination from the UAE on May 26.
Another suspected member of the crime group, Jack Kavanagh, 22, from Tamworth, central England, was also held by Spanish police for firearms offences on May 30 as he transitted through Malaga from Dubai.
"This investigation is part of the NCA's ongoing work targeting the Kinahan crime group," Kay Mellor regional head of investigations at the NCA, which investigates serious and organised crime.
"Liam Byrne and Jack Kavanagh have been evading justice for a number of years, but have now been arrested in relation to serious firearms offences.
"We... will continue to work closely with our international partners to ensure those who think they can stay under the radar have no place to hide," she added.
Irish assistant police commissioner Justin Kelly called Byrne's arrest a "particularly significant development in the efforts of international law enforcement to dismantle the operations of the Kinahan organised crime group".
The NCA said the arrests in Mallorca followed an "intelligence-led investigation" supported by the Spanish National Police and officers from An Garda Siochana in Ireland.
Byrne and Kelly remain in custody as extradition proceedings against them continue.
In September last year Spanish police arrested a British-Irish suspect believed to have moved 200 million euros (US$200 million) in illicit cash for the Kinahans.
In April 2022 the US Treasury Department placed sanctions on senior Kinahan gang members prompting the UAE to follow suit shortly afterwards. (AFP)