Hit plan let down by SMS

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Photo: Tiit Blaat / Ekspress Meedia

Estonian Imre Arakas, who is under constant police attention in Europe courtesy of his infamous reputation, was caught planning a professional hit in Ireland. He is believed to be connected to several contract killings abroad.

Imre Arakas walked straight into a police trap in Ireland. The Estonian had only just managed to avoid prison a year prior as evidence was insufficient for Arakas to be convicted of the contract killing of an infamous gang leader.

Three men dressed as local Garda police officers had killed one of the leaders of the Hutch gang, David Byrne, in a Dublin hotel. Byrne supposedly said before he was killed that the gang war would not end before the leader of the rival Kinahan gang, Daniel Kinahan, was dead.

Irish authorities believed Arakas, who knows Kinahan from Costa del Sol where they both live, to have been one of the tree killers. Arakas was arrested in Dublin; however, the search only revealed a sighting telescope. This clearly wasn't enough for charges to be brought, and Arakas walked.

When Arakas boarded a plane to Dublin in Alicante, Spain this time around, authorities knew interesting things were about to happen. Because Europol had allegedly entered Arakas' name in its Europe-wide watch list, Irish authorities learned of his arrival in Dublin straight away. Local investigators observed Arakas entering the arrivals waiting room at the Dublin airport.

The surveillance team saw Arakas enter a shop in downtown Dublin and come out with a wig a few days later. Officers kept tabs on Arakas' phones. Authorities decided to nab the Estonian after he sent an SMS to his Irish contact asking whether he could get a gun and silencer.

The arrest took place in a house in the Dublin suburb of Blakestown inhabited at the time by Arakas and two other persons. One of them was the owner of the house, 58-year-old Stephen Fowler, who was convicted of growing cannabis plants in his back yard in 2011. Fowler was found to be in possession of €450,000 worth of cannabis plants and two firearms at the time.

Arakas had in his possession several disguises and a list of people with ties to the Hutch family. The Irish press claims it is a list of people Arakas was supposed to kill. Journalist at the Irish Sun Owen Conlon says the incident is an episode in the bloodiest gang war in Ireland's history. The war is between the Hutch and Kinahan gangs. „The list he had did not include the names of Hutch gangsters. It was a list of their relatives, innocent people,“ Conlon said.

The journalist said that the Kinahans reside in Marbella, Spain (which is also where Imre Arakas makes his home), while the Hutches live in Dublin. The Kinahan gang has murdered 11 relatives of members of the Hutch gang, which has caused gang boss Gerry Hutch alias Monk to go into hiding in Amsterdam.

Conlon claims the rival gang has gone after his relatives to get to Hutch. „What surprises me is that they went to someone who is so widely known. The police had to have known he was coming,“ Conlon said.

Irish gangs know Arakas as the Butcher for his cold-blooded view of the value of human life. The Irish press claims Arakas stood to make €100,000 for the hit.

„The cartel was tired of hiring drug addicts who tend to botch hits by often killing the wrong person. This time they hired someone who is believed to be one of the most dangerous contract killers in Europe,“ a source told Irish daily Independent.

The paper reports that Arakas moved to Costa del Sol in the 1990s where he met the Kinahan cartel. The article also claims Arakas is connected to killings in several European countries. Arakas referred to himself as a real estate businessman during his interrogation.

The war between the Kinahans and the Hutches is widely known in Dublin. Both gangs are associated with drug trafficking, with several members convicted of corresponding crimes.  Kinahan has also been tied to international arms smuggling and money laundering. One of the areas where the Kinahans operate is Marbella where Arakas has been living for the past 20 years.

The war has cost the lives of 11 members of the Hutch family and only one Kinahan so far. The most widely known incident is the killing of Gary Hutch in Spain in 2015. The recent case is from only a few weeks ago when Gary's cousin was shot.

Estonian courts have punished Arakas for criminal offenses on several occasions, while his name has surfaced in many other criminal investigations. Arakas was associated with the murder of underground authority and former fellow gang member Daniel Mäng in 1996 whom Arakas accused of cooperating with Russian gangs. Arakas is also believed to be the one who attempted to assassinate businessman Meelis Lao, who had alleged ties to the underworld, using an automatic rifle on two occasions – once on Tartu rd. in Tallinn and once in Pirita.

Arakas has been officially suspected of a contract killing only once in the case of the hit on Rain Võsandi in the 1990s. He was not charged due to lack of evidence.

Arakas has escaped several attempts on his own life. He was a classmate of former PM Mart Laar.