A senior associate of the Kinahan organised crime gang has been arrested while on the run in Spain.
Gary Vickery (38), from Dublin, pleaded guilty in a UK court in June 2020 to conspiring to import over £23 million worth of drugs and to laundering cash for the organised crime group.
His co-accused Thomas "Bomber" Kavanagh (52) and Daniel Canning (41), who are also closely involved with the Kinahan gang's operations, pleaded guilty to the same offence.
The convictions were the result of a four-year joint investigation by the Garda and the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) into a multimillion euro, Kinahan-backed drug-trafficking operation.
Vickery, with an address in Tamworth, Staffordshire was granted bail ahead of his sentencing and repeatedly failed to show up for subsequent hearings. A warrant was recently issued for his arrest after he claimed he could not show up to court because he could not get a Covid-19 test.
In recent months, he has been living in Lanzarote with his wife where he has amassed considerable signs of wealth including boats and high-end cars.
Vickery was arrested in a bar in the town of Yaiza on the south of the island on Wednesday morning by Guardia Civil officers who were working with the NCA.
He appeared in a Spanish court on Thursday morning ahead of his expected extradition back to the UK to face sentencing.
"Vickery was given ample opportunity to return to the UK following his guilty plea, but has failed to come back on every occasion," said NCA Deputy Director Matt Horne.
“We will ensure those who cause harm to the UK though organised crime are held accountable, and this case highlights our tenacity.
“I’d like to thank the NCA officers here in the UK, and our international liaison team in Spain, who have worked closely with colleagues in the Guardia Civil to locate Vickery.”
Kavanagh and Canning are currently in custody awaiting sentence for their role in the drug importation scheme.
Kavanagh is considered the most senior representative of the Kinahan organised crime group in the UK. He co-ordinated its activities from a secure mansion, with bullet-proof glass, near Birmingham. He is the brother-in-law of Liam Byrne, who runs the Kinahan's Irish operations, and David Byrne who was shot dead in the 2016 Regency Hotel shooting.
Kavanagh is already serving a three-year sentence imposed last year for possessing a stun gun disguised as a torch.
The three men admitted conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering. Canning also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition.
Conspiracy to import class A drugs carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a recommended sentence of between 3½ and 16 years, according to UK sentencing guidelines.