AN alleged ‘highly trusted’ member of the Kinahan cartel has been extradited to the UK to face a string of firearms charges.
Liam Byrne, 42, was escorted to Britain by a team of officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) on December 12, before appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The Dublin-born suspect has been remanded into custody ahead of a trial in the new year.
It comes after he was dramatically arrested while eating in a restaurant in Alcudia, Mallorca in June this year.
He was snared in a joint investigation involving the NCA and Spain’s Policia Nacional, with extra support from Ireland’s An Garda Siochana force.
Byrne had flown to the Spanish island from Dubai in the Middle East on May 26.
The NCA obtained arrest warrants after messages on encrypted messaging service Encrochat indicated that Byrne was potentially involved in the supply and acquisition of firearms.
The Kinahans once ruled the drugs operations on the Costa del Sol but left for Dubai several years ago.
It came after the Irish and Spanish authorities joined forces to crack down on their businesses.
Their departure left somewhat of a ‘power vacuum’ and a spike in gangland violence, with rival gangs from Liverpool, the Netherlands and elsewhere vying for control.
Craig Turner, Deputy Director of Investigations at the NCA said: “The arrest and extradition of Liam Byrne highlights the NCA’s ongoing work to target the alleged criminal activities of the Kinahan organised crime group.
“He will now be remanded in custody until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for the 8 January 2024.”
Another suspected member of the crime group, Jack Kavanagh, 23, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, who was arrested by officers from the Spanish National Police on May 30 at Malaga Airport, while transiting from Dubai to Turkey, remains in custody in Spain awaiting extradition.