Background: Irish gangland in the Spanish sun

The heat has been turned up on the ex-pat criminal fraternity in recent years

Drug-dealer Richard Keogh (30), from Cabra, Dublin, who was killed in 2008 outside a casino near Benalmadena. Photograph: RTÉ News

Drug-dealer Richard Keogh (30), from Cabra, Dublin, who was killed in 2008 outside a casino near Benalmadena. Photograph: RTÉ News

 

Once the playground of an Irish criminal fraternity keen to stay out of the reach of the Garda while earning vast fortunes under the sun, the heat has been turned up on the south of Spain in recent years.

Following the murder of Veronica Guerin in 1996, major drug-dealers departed for European shores.

Some went to the Netherlands or Belgium, but the favourite was undoubtedly southern Spain.

The anglicised package holiday destination with an established group of British criminals already there made it perfect for the Irish.

Some proved adept at keeping their heads down, they sourced and supplied drugs and made fortunes.

The most successful has been Christy Kinahan, who left Ireland for Spain about 17 years ago.

Increasingly, however, he and other Irish criminals are spending less time there as the local authorities begin to tighten their grip.

Other younger, less experienced criminals, who became players too fast in the drugs boom of Celtic Tiger Ireland, never understood the value of anonymity as well as George “The Penguin” Mitchell and Christy Kinahan.

For many of them, profile has brought death in the Spanish sun.

Cabra-born drug-dealer Richard Keogh (30) was killed in 2008 outside a casino near Benalmadena. Peter Mitchell (45), from Summerhill, was wounded in Marbella in August 2008.

He was a one-time associate of John Gilligan. Drug-dealer and murder suspect Paddy Doyle (27) of Portland Place, Dublin, was killed near Marbella of that year by the Kinahan gang, which also killed Gary Hutch in 2015 – the death which began the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Perhaps the most notorious Irish murders in Spain were those of Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27), who became known as the Westies when involved in drug-dealing and violence in west Dublin.

They were killed in Alicante in 2004 by a rival Irish criminal and buried in concrete under a warehouse.

Their bodies were not found for almost three years. They are just some of nearly 20 young Irish gangland figures killed across Europe.