Sunday 17 November 2019

Suspect in Costa drug haul linked to earlier shipment

Tom Brady and Ralph Riegel

THE Irish businessman arrested last week in connection with a big cannabis resin haul off the Spanish coast has been linked with another multi-million shipment seized last December.

Police have now established that last week's haul, found on board the Irish-registered yacht, the Colin Hannah, comprised 700kg of cannabis with a street value of €4.2m.

Seven suspects, including the 57-year-old Cork man and his 48-year-old partner, are still being held for questioning in Malaga.

At least some of them are due to appear in court shortly.

The five others arrested include an Englishman, who is regarded by police as a major drug trafficking figure, three other Britons and a German national.

The yacht was intercepted following a long-running operation, codenamed "Ciana/Fortuna", involving the Garda national drugs unit, the Revenue Service and the Spanish national police.

Seizure

As a result of the operation, officers have established a direct link between the latest seizure and a find in Spain shortly before Christmas in which a total of 1.2 tonnes of cannabis resin were recovered.

This shipment had a total street value of €7.2m, bringing the overall value of drugs recovered to €11.4m.

The 38ft Colin Hannah had left Cork almost two years ago.

It left a Moroccan port early last week and its movements were monitored until it entered Spanish territorial waters on Thursday when it was intercepted by armed members of the Spanish Navy.

Police believe the Irishman was planning to send out a number of boats from a southern harbour to meet the yacht as it approached Ireland divide up the massive shipment before bringing it ashore.

The Irish Independent disclosed on Saturday that the Cork businessman had been planning to fly home with his partner from Malaga on Friday but was arrested on Thursday night.

The man has been a target of the Garda national drugs unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau since the 1990s and the CAB seized a house belonged to him in Cork towards the end of that decade.

He is also suspected of being linked to Dublin criminals, including one drug trafficker with a wide network of contacts internationally, including in South America and North Africa.

Irish Independent

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