'Godfather' held as police launch European raids

Map of Spain

Police in Britain, Spain and the Republic of Ireland have arrested 32 people in raids against an alleged major international criminal group.

Among those detained is Christy Kinahan, dubbed the "Irish godfather", who is accused of leading the group.

The Irish-born Briton, 53, was arrested with his sons in Malaga, Spain.

The network is suspected of trafficking large quantities of drugs and firearms, and of laundering hundreds of millions of pounds, UK officials said.

Twenty people were arrested in Spain, 11 in the UK, and one in Ireland.

'Major blow'

The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said the raids had dealt a "major blow" to a group "suspected of supplying drugs and guns to gangs in cities across the UK and Europe".

"We also believe this network has been offering a global investment service, ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds of dirty cash into offshore accounts, companies and property on behalf of criminals," the agency said in a statement.

Some 750 police officers were involved in the raids, which were co-ordinated from London, Dublin and Malaga.

Officers also searched property in Belgium, Cyprus and Brazil.

Spanish police arrested Mr Kinahan together with his family, other British and Irish suspects and four Spanish lawyers.

The raids follow a two-year investigation that included surveillance and monitoring of the group's finances.

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