Prison escapee jailed over €440m drug haul caught in Spain

British gang member had been jailed for 10 years but escaped after transfer back to UK

 A file image showing members of Spanish police   on the Lucky Day  in La Coruna harbour in  July 2007. Two men were arrested when the  catamaran  arrived at the port.

A file image showing members of Spanish police on the Lucky Day in La Coruna harbour in July 2007. Two men were arrested when the catamaran arrived at the port.

 

A man convicted and jailed for his part in the biggest drug seizure in the history of the State is in police custody in Spain after escaping from prison and fleeing there.

Gerard Hagan, a 29-year-old from Liverpool, was arrested outside a gym where he had gone to work out.

He had been living openly near the Costa del Sol resort of Estepona, apparently unconcerned that he may be the subject of an international man hunt.

Hogan was part of a gang of British criminals who botched an effort to smuggle cocaine valued at up to €440 million into Ireland by landing it from a boat on a stretch of remote Co Cork coastline.

The cocaine, which was destined for the UK market, had been packed into the ‘Lucky Day’ catamaran the Caribbean in May 2007 and had sailed across the Atlantic. It proceeded undetected until it reached the waters of Dunlough Bay in July of that year.

There, gang members who had come to Ireland ostensibly for a fishing trip were waiting to receive the 62 bales of drugs weighing 1.5 tonnes.

They launched small rigid inflatable boats (ribs) into the waters of Dunlough Bay and collected the drugs from the catamaran as part of a plan to bring the drugs ashore and then across to the UK.

However, one of the ribs got into difficulty because diesel had been put into a spare fuel tank for the petrol-engine boat. The small craft capsized and the bales of cocaine were tipped into the water.

Members of the public saw what was unfolding and alerted the Garda. A massive operation was launched, which resulted in the arrest of the gang members despite their fleeing the scene.

Hagan had sailed across the Atlantic on the Lucky Day with the cocaine and was in the rib that capsized.

He managed to make it ashore and ran to a farmhouse to raise the alarm about his associate still in the water. He told the occupants of the house he was in the area fishing when the boat capsized.

He was soon arrested and charged. He pleaded guilty to his role in the doomed enterprise and was jailed for 10 years in November 2008. Others put on trial were jailed for terms of between 20 and 30 years including a former London drugs unit police officer.

Of the four men put on trial in Ireland for the conspiracy, Hagan’s role was the most junior. Evidence was heard he had agreed to cooperate in exchange for payment of €6,200.

Some two years into his sentence he was transferred back the UK and had been serving the remainder of his term in Kirkham Prison, Preston, Lancashire.

However, he escaped on July 6th last year and had been on the run until his arrest at 11.30am last Thursday near the gym he was using in the south of Spain. News of the arrest only emerged today.

He is believed to be currently in a prison outside Madrid.

It is anticipated he will be held there pending the conclusion of extradition proceedings aimed at returning him to the UK.

The area of Spain where he was arrested is popular with Irish drugs gangs. Drug dealer and suspected gangland killer, Paddy Doyle (27) from Dublin’s north inner city was shot dead in February 2008 close to the spot where Hagan was arrested last week.