Gerry Hutch was taking counter-surveillance precautions and carrying false documents when he was followed and arrested in southern Spain, the Guardia Civil has said.
Garda members were also at the scene of the arrest last Thursday.
In their first comment on the arrest of the Dubliner, Spanish police said Mr Hutch – naming him by his nickname "The Monk" and his initials – was wanted in Ireland to face a murder charge.
They also confirmed they were looking for him on the Canary Islands earlier this year before losing track of him, though intelligence later suggested he had gone to southern Spain and he was tracked down to Fuengirola.
“Finally, he is located in a house in the centre of the town of Fuengirola, Malaga,” the Guardia Civil said of last week’s operation in a statement on Tuesday, adding the earlier effort to find him in the Canary Islands took place in April.
When surveillance was put in place on the property in Fuengirola last week where Mr Hutch was staying, the Guardia Civil said it appeared Mr Hutch had support in the area.
“[The police] discovered that it had a logistics network that provided what is necessary so [he] didn’t have to leave [his] hiding place,” the statement said.
However, last Thursday when he left the property to go to a restaurant for a meal a surveillance team was watching him and followed him.
“He leaves his home walking through the busy streets of the centre of the city, Malaga town, very focused on his safety, making numerous stops and [direction] changes, until he accesses a well-known restaurant, where he is detained by Guardia Civil agents, carrying false documentation at that time,” the police statement said.
Mr Hutch was detained by armed officers from El Equipo de Huidos de la Justicia de la Unidad Central Operativa (UCO) of the Guardia Civil, which investigates organised crime. The operation culminating in his arrest also involved the Garda, Europol and the Grupo de Acción Rápida (GAR) – the Rapid Action Group – and other police units from Malaga.
After he was detained, the house he was staying in was searched by the Guardia Civil last Friday at the request of An Garda Síochána.
Mr Hutch has since appeared before a brief hearing of the courts, in Madrid on Saturday.
However, he offered no indication at that hearing whether he would challenge the efforts to extradite him to the Republic, where he is wanted to face charges for the shooting at the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, in February, 2016.
During the Regency attack five gunmen – including three dressed in mock Garda ERU uniforms and armed with AK47s – burst into a boxing tournament weigh-in and opened fire. Gardaí believe the main target of that attack was Daniel Kinahan, the man named by the Criminal Assets Bureau in the High Court as leader of the Kinahan cartel.
However, while Kinahan fled the scene, one of his associates – David Byrne (34) from Crumlin – was wounded and died from his injuries. Several other men were wounded but survived.
That attack was seen as revenge for the murder of Gary Hutch – the 34-year-old nephew of Gerry Hutch – in Spain in 2015. The Regency attack accelerated the Kinahan-Hutch feud, which has to date claimed 18 lives.