Kinahan Cartel: Wanted Narco Boss Exposes Whereabouts by Posting Google Reviews

One of the world’s most wanted men, a notorious narco kingpin whose gang is implicated in multiple murders, has left a trail of Google reviews providing valuable new insights into his movements and whereabouts over the past five years.

Christopher Kinahan Sr is the head of the notorious Kinahan Organised Crime Group, which originated in Ireland and is otherwise known as the Kinahan Cartel. Irish police believe the gang has amassed profits of over $1 billion through the trade of illegal narcotics, arms trafficking and money laundering over the years.

The US Government is currently offering a collective $15 million bounty for information leading to the financial disruption or arrest of Kinahan and his two sons (Daniel and Christopher Junior). All three are reported to be based in Dubai, which has so far refrained from extraditing the wanted trio. 

Wanted posters released by the US Treasury Department for Daniel Kinahan (left), Christy Kinahan (centre) and Christopher Kinahan Jr (right). Source US Treasury Department.

Multiple media reports have suggested that Kinahan Sr has sought to reinvent himself in recent years, using his first and middle names “Christopher Vincent” given the notoriety now attached to the Kinahan name. 

Surprisingly, he has left behind a significant digital footprint linked to this identity which has made it possible to gain valuable new insights into his activities and movements.

Kinahan Sr’s LinkedIn account used the Christopher Vincent alias, something that was first identified by Ireland’s Sunday World newspaper in 2022. Now, it appears the owner of an identically named profile has been freely posting his thoughts via Google reviews since 2019. The account boasts of international trips to the likes of Spain, Hungary, Turkey, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Egypt, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Perhaps less surprisingly, the account has left reviews for a number of establishments in Dubai near to where Kinahan Sr resides. 

Some reviews are short and mundane, such as a comment left for a restaurant in Istanbul in August 2022: “The restaurant is chic and plush, the service was good but not outstanding.” Others, however, reveal interesting clues about his apparent activities in recent years. Some comments detail attending “business networking” conferences in Zimbabwe and of watching a sunset with colleagues in South Africa as they “discussed some business”. Another states Kinahan Sr is a “Platinum Ambassador” on an international hotel group’s reward program. 

No reviews for locations outside of the UAE have been posted since the US wanted notice was announced in April, 2022.

Bellingcat, working with The Sunday Times, was able to confirm the profile was Kinahan Sr’s given an email address associated with the account belonged to him and was connected to a physical address detailed in US sanctions documents. His reflection also appears in windows or mirrors in several of the images posted to the profile.

For example, a picture taken at a restaurant named Tasha’s at the Dubai Marina in November 2022, showed Kinahan Sr’s face reflected in a nearby window.

A Google image showing Tasha’s restaurant in Dubai (left). The same restaurant can be seen in a picture from Kinahan’s reviews (centre). Kinahan’s face can be seen in the reflection of the window in a zoomed in version of the image. Archived link here.

Others show a man of Kinahan Sr’s build and profile even though his face is not fully visible. For example, a picture tagged to the Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2021 shows an individual with a similar hairstyle and stature to Kinahan Sr reflected in a bathroom mirror.

A man in an orange t-shirt can be seen in an image posted to the Christopher Vincent profile. Archive link here.

A month later, the account posted a picture tagged to the Aurea Ana Palace hotel in Budapest, Hungary. The individual in the image was again of similar build and appearance to Kinahan Sr. Whats more, the jacket being worn by the individual in the post is strikingly similar to one Kinahan Sr was previously photographed wearing.

A Google image showing pictures of the Aurea Ana Palace hotel in Budapest, Hungary (left). An image posted to the Christopher Vincent reviews profile (centre). A man in a beige jacket can be seen in zoomed in version of the centre image (right). Archive link here.

Last year, Kinahan Sr posted a review of The Cycle Bistro Jumeirah in Dubai. “Service was good and the staff were pleasant and helpful,” he wrote. “The menu caters for NON-vegan, dairy and sugar.” 

“I had the açai bowl, followed by eggs with almond bread and green salad. My meal was well presented and tasty. I give this establishment five stars.” A number of photos accompanied the March 2023 post, showing the cafe which is situated within a larger bike store. 

But it was an image that appeared on the establishment’s own social pages a few months later that was most compelling, inadvertently appearing to show a meeting between Kinahan Sr and Chirstopher Kinahan Jr on a return visit.

An image taken from the social media pages of a Dubai restaurant shows Christopher Kinahan Jr (left) meeting with his father in May 2023.

While what is likely Kinahan Sr’s back remains towards the camera, his son’s face is clearly visible. The image is the most recent known photo documenting both individuals. It appears that no review was left for this particular trip.

A US Treasury wanted poster for Christopher Kinahan Jr (left). A picture of Christopher Kinahan Jr captured at a Dubai restaurant (left)

Who are the Kinahans?

Kinahan Sr is nicknamed ‘The Dapper Don’, reportedly due to his impeccable dress sense. He faced his first significant stint in jail in 1986 after being caught in possession of over $100,000 worth of heroin in Dublin, Ireland. He was released in 1992 but was jailed again in 1997 for handling stolen cheques. He has also reportedly served time in Belgium.

Kinahan Sr used his time in prison in the late nineties to study Spanish and Dutch, languages that would reportedly help him make connections in the international criminal underworld. 

But Kinahan Sr does not operate alone. His sons, Daniel and Christopher Jr are a key part of the cartel’s operation, according to the US Department of the Treasury. Daniel is the most prominent thanks to his previous high-profile involvement in the sport of boxing. He became a key player in making big boxing matches, including world title fights, happen. But that also brought significantly more attention onto the source of his family’s wealth.

The Kinahans initially distributed South American cocaine in Ireland, as well as heroin, before expanding to traffic narcotics to the UK and then mainland Europe, according to the US Department of State wanted notice.

The gang has also been involved in at least 20 murders, according to a 2022 Europol report.

When a dramatic plot to assassinate Daniel Kinahan at a weigh-in for a boxing match at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016 failed, it led to a spate of violence between the Kinahans and the rival, Dublin-based Hutch gang. At least 18 people have been killed in the ensuing feud, according to media reports.

Kinahan Sr moved to Dubai in 2016 in the wake of these incidents. He had previously been residing in the south of Spain and has made several trips back there since, according to his Google review activity.

A Busy Business Traveller

Kinahan Sr’s Google reviews first began in 2019 when he left a three-star review for the Bareburger City Walk restaurant in Dubai, a short distance away from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

The following month he wrote of Dubai’s City Walk shopping precinct: “Wonderful place to stroll around, particularly in the evening, lots of restaurants to choose from. Family (child) friendly, relaxed chilled out atmosphere. I unreservedly rate this area five-star but not cheap.”

He has posted 221 reviews in total, with the last being a four-star review posted on 29 March 2023 (without comment) of the InterContinental Fujairah Resort in the Emirati town of Fujairah. The hotel is roughly 95 miles from Kinahan Sr’s base in Dubai.

All in, Kinahan Sr has left 102 reviews for establishments in the UAE, 45 in Spain, 28 in Zimbabwe, 16 in South Africa and 14 in Turkey. He also tagged a smaller number of reviews in Portugal, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Hungary, Egypt and Belgium.

A graph showing countries where Christopher Kinahan Sr posted Google reviews about.

Kinahan does not appear in any photos posted to the account, except those where he has seemingly unintentionally captured his own reflection. The account’s contribution statistics show he has posted more than 1,100 photos and four videos to accompany his reviews, although not all of those were visible when the account was viewed by Bellingcat and the Sunday Times.

Many of these pictures reveal valuable clues as to his lifestyle, movements and claims to be conducting business in a variety of locations.

For example, an October 2021 review of the Harvard Cafe at Rand Airport in Johannesburg South Africa states: “We witnessed a stunning sunset as we shared drinks and discussed some business. The food was good, the company equally as good but the only slight drawback was that the service was not quite equal to the cuisine.”

Kinahan Sr also described going on business trips to Turkey, where he commented that his stay at the Crowne Plaza Florya Istanbul was “convenient to near by [sic] Ataturk Airport.” He also added that one staff member who served him in the restaurant deserved a “shout out” as he was “extremely, helpful, polite and professional.”

In October 2019, Kinahan Sr attended the Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference (GHAC), held by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) at the Steigenberger Alcazar hotel in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Kinahan’s presence at the event was initially reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). A Google review from Kinahan states: “I was here for the 11th Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference supported by the UN and WFP. The service and food were good as were the conference facilities.”

The ICIJ reported that Kinahan had sought to initiate a deal to purchase a fleet of military transport planes from Egypt a short time after the event, although the sale was never completed.

In a review from October 2021, Kinahan Sr also posted about a four day trip to a business networking event in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Irish media reported in 2022 that Kinahan had considered setting up a base in Zimbabwe where he had been presenting himself as a British businessman working in the aviation sector. Although the Zimbabwe Independent stated last year that Kinahan had subsequently abandoned that plan.

In 2023, The Sunday Times reported that the Kinahan cartel had sought to buy gold in Zimbabwe, transiting it through South Africa onwards towards Dubai, to help launder the gang’s drug profits. Kinahan Sr posted multiple reviews of establishments in South Africa between 2019 and 2021. The Sunday Times similarly reported that the plane transport deal could have been part of a ploy to redirect aircraft parts to Iran given Kinahan met apparent Iranian associates when in Zimbabwe. Such a project would likely have been designed to get around international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, according to the Sunday Times.

The Dapper Don also posted about his experiences on seemingly less business-focussed trips. He left reviews for three Irish bars: O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the Corner Irish Bar in Lisbon, Portugal, as well as Paddy’s Emerald Sports Bar in Malaga, Spain. Kinahan Sr also left reviews for a casual bar in Hong Kong and a Pizza Hut in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

In Dubai, he left reviews for dozens of establishments, including chains such as Wagamamas, P.F. Chang’s and Pret A Manger.

In a nod towards Kinahan Sr enjoying the more luxurious things in life, a 2021 review describes a trip to a Rolex store in Dubai where a helpful assistant provided “a short term fix” to an issue he had. Another shows him seemingly in business class on an Emirates flight the same year.

A September 2022 post, meanwhile, details a “fishing trip with friends” in Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. A picture accompanying the post shows the fishing charter sailing past the luxurious Motor Yacht A superyacht which is valued at $300 million.

An image of Motor Yacht A posted to a review posted by the Christopher Vincent account. Archive link here.

Finding the Dapper Don

Discovering Kinahan Sr’s Google reviews was relatively straightforward. Following up on previous media reports that he had been using the name Christopher Vincent, a basic web search brought up a result for a Google reviews user with that name.

Searching for “Christopher Vincent” “Sharjah” produced a result, close to the top of the Google page, for a website named Wanderlog. Sharjah, which is an area to the north of Dubai, was added to the search operator on the hypothesis that the Kinahans could have been there at some point. It also meant that news reports about the Kinahan’s featuring the term “Dubai” would be filtered out. Other areas of Dubai were checked out using the same method. Interestingly, the Wanderlog website appeared as part of the results as it dragged in a Google review of a steak restaurant by a user named Christopher Vincent.

A screen grab of a review from Christopher Kinahan Sr about a steak restaurant in Dubai.

As well as the geographic clues and visual evidence of Kinahan Sr’s reflection appearing in mirrors and windows in other posts, it was also possible to gather further details about the owner of the Google reviews profile by looking at an email address attached to it.

It is not possible to link a Google reviews profile to an email address. But it is possible to do the inverse, to link an email address to a Google reviews profile using the GHunt open source tool  – as long as the email address is known.

Inputting several email addresses suspected to be owned by Kinahan Sr produced no results. However, one found hidden deep within the source code of a website with the address www.christopher-vincent.com did. The site is no longer online but a version has been archived by the Wayback Machine. The website was first reported on by the Sunday Times in November 2023.

The contact address on the site could not be linked to the Google reviews profile but another address in the source code could.

By opening the archived website in a Firefox browser, a page can be opened in the source view that reveals a Gmail address that contains the name “Christopher Vincent”.

An archived version of the www.christopher-vincent.com website.

By inputting this address into GHunt we can find the publicly available Google account details linked to the email.

A snapshot of the GHunt results for the email address found in the source code of the christopher-vincent website. Email address has been blurred.

In the Maps Data section of the GHunt results, we can see the link to a Google reviews profile.

A snapshot of the GHunt results for the email address found in the source code of the christopher-vincent website.

The link (archived here) opens to the very same reviews profile analysed in this investigation, confirming the email address is connected. 

Going even further we can enter that same email address into WhoisXML API, a platform that can retrieve information about website ownership records. This showed that the address was also linked to a domain named scryinsider.com.

A screenshot from WhoIsXML reveals the same email address is connected to the domain scryinsider.com.

The domain is no longer online. However, checking the historical WHOIS records shows that it was registered in October 2013 under the name “christopher vincent kinahan”. Whats more, the WHOIS records show that the physical address related to the domain is the same as a Spanish address listed in the US Treasury sanctions against Kinahan Sr.

A Continued Life of Luxury?

While the cartel’s senior command remain wanted men, Kinahan Sr’s reviews of plush malls, restaurants and hotels suggest they have been under little restriction in Dubai.

Kinahan Sr even gave a glowing review to an official branch of Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism, where Emirates IDs are issued to residents and citizens, in November 2021. He described meeting a security officer who was “most helpful in guiding me to the machine and then advising me on it’s [sic] use.  Based on my experience whilst visiting this office I rate this visit 5 star.” Some reports have suggested that Irish and Emirati authorities could be edging closer to an agreement to extradite the Kinahans. As of today, however, that is yet to happen.

The Sunday Times and Bellingcat reached out to Kinahan Sr about the details in this story but did not receive a response before publication.

A spokesperson for the government in Dubai did not respond to request for comment from The Sunday Times and Bellingcat.


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