Republic of Ireland news

Joint op sees man arrested in Spain for Hutch murder

Gardaí assisting La Guardia Civil in Spain PICTURE: An Garda Síochána
Brian Hutton

POLICE have arrested a man in connection with a murder that sparked a bloody gangland war that has spilled over on to the streets of Dublin and Spanish sun resorts.

The suspect was detained in Spain as Irish and Spanish detectives carried out coordinated dawn raids in both countries in an international investigation into the Kinahan crime cartel.

The man is being questioned about the murder of Gary Hutch in September last year on the Costa del Sol.

Hutch had fallen foul of the Kinahan outfit and their operations in Spain.

The killing started a wave of blood-letting leading to 10 murders, including two innocent victims of mistaken identity and the audacious AK47 gun attack on a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in north Dublin in February.

Garda Detective Superintendent Tony Howard told a press briefing in Dublin that a number of his colleagues were with Spain's Guardia Civil during the joint operation in Malaga.

"They carried out a number of searches and one person has been arrested in relation to the homicide of Gary Hutch in Spain in 2015," he said.

Gardai have posted pictures on their Facebook page in connection with the operation, showing a luxury yacht being searched while a man is detained at a marina, as well as a black Bentley car.

Members of the Guardia Civil were also in Dublin to take part in coordinated raids of six premises in the Tallaght, Clondalkin and south inner city areas.

Mr Howard said "a lot of evidence" was gathered during the searches, involving up to 60 officers.

"We have seized computers, phones, cash – approximately €23,000 (£19,500) in cash which was hidden at a location in one of the search sites," he said.

"We have also seized false identification papers and we have seized financial documentation in relation to banks outside this jurisdiction."

He said he expected more arrests to follow.

"Today was about gathering evidence and disrupting and dismantling these organised crime groups," he said.

"It was about gathering evidence so we can go to the director of public prosecutions to seek a charge of possibly directing organised crime, but certainly facilitating organised crime in these jurisdictions.

"I do know a significant amount of evidence has been retrieved in Spain."

The Republic's justice minister Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the "excellent cooperation" between Irish and Spanish authorities.

"Gardai have an unrelenting, a very serious and ongoing persistent focus, on interrupting the criminal activities and this cycle of revenge and retaliation that we see with these gangs," she said.

Trevor O'Neill, an Irish father of three shot dead while on holiday with his family in Majorca last month, was believed to be the latest mistaken target of the feud.

In April, innocent bystander Martin O'Rourke died after being gunned down in Dublin's north inner city during an assassination attempt of another figure connected to the fall-out.

Gardai said in June that the unprecedented spate of underworld-ordered killings was being directed from Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.

A special crime taskforce has been set up into the blood-letting but the Garda has admitted the international dimension is a challenge for their investigations.

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