The Godfather, the Mafia don claimed that he had a legitimate business as an importer of olive oil.
Although the book was a work of fiction, it was said to be based on reality, so why shouldn't Dublin's own Christy Kinahan take a page from that book?
He became an importer of Spanish food. Nothing too high end, mind you, as that would cost too much to set up the operation. All he needed, like the Godfather, was a legitimate business front to mask his real operations.
They say that the Mafia was against drug dealing in the early days, but came to see the financial potential that could be realized from trade in illicit substances. To say that Christy Kinahan was awash in money from the drugs trade would be an understatement.
That import business he had? Once he'd established a company with trucks and warehouses, he could discontinue the food end and focus on bringing in drugs from Spain. On his import business trucks. To be stored in his import business warehouse.
Like any good business man, Christy developed a chain of warehouses and made himself the middle man between the seller and the buyer. He stayed clear of the gang wars, never had to fight over turf. Instead, he concentrated on being the most efficient and reliable wholesaler for cannabis and the like. Rival gangs bought from him and he was an equal opportunity merchant.
From a humble olive oil importer, the Godfather invested his returns and grew his corporation. So too did Mr. Kinahan. He bought property across the globe, not only to launder the proceeds of his illegal operation but as a hedge against the future. At some point, a man wants to retire and live out his golden years in comfort, and what better way than to have a steady rental income?
But Mario Puzo wrote fiction and the Godfather prospered. Although threatened by government probes, he was never undone. Not so in real life, as Christy Kinahan can now attest.
His world began to fall apart two years ago when gardai raided one of his warehouses. They then initiated an investigation and traced the drugs back to Spain, and found a link to England. Police in England initiated an investigation and found a warehouse that was traced back to the same front company in Spain, and then the European authorities started digging deep.
Mr. Kinahan no longer need concern himself with retirement income. He can expect to spend his golden years behind bars. Arrested in Spain yesterday, he will be charged with drug dealing, money laundering and whatever else Interpol can throw at him.
That's the funny thing about writers. They can control how things end in their novels because they're the ones putting the words together. They don't have to deal with police from three different countries working together to bring down the main character in the drama.