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Two held as police rescue man blamed by gang for drug seizure

Police have arrested two suspects, including a Dubliner, and rescued a man, who was kidnapped after being blamed by a gang for last week's huge cannabis seizure off the Spanish coast.

The kidnapped man, who is wanted by British police in connection with money laundering, was accused by his abductors of passing information to police about the 700 kilos of cannabis, which was on board an Irish-registered yacht, the 'Colin Hannah'.

The drugs had been picked up in Morocco and were destined for Ireland but intercepted as a result of an operation involving the garda national drugs unit, the Irish Customs and Spanish national police.

A 57-year-old Cork businessman has been accused by the Spanish of playing a major role in the smuggling.

It emerged yesterday that the abduction of the Briton took place a week ago on the Costa del Sol in the millionaires' playground of Puerto Banus and he was taken to a nearby safe house.

Police inquiries established the whereabouts of the safe house in the resort town of Manilva on Monday and armed officers stormed into the apartment.

The man, who was tied to a bed in a back room, was rescued by police, who then detained two suspected kidnappers.

One of the alleged kidnappers is from London while the second, a 31-year-old Dubliner, is originally from Rathfarnham.

The man is known to gardai and left here four years ago to join an Irish criminal network operating on the Costa del Sol.

While living in Spain he associated with the son of a convicted fraudster, who was active in the criminal underworld here in the 1980s and 1990s.

The man is regarded by police as a minor player in the Costa drug smuggling gang.

Police said yesterday that officers from Malaga and Seville were brought in to storm the apartment and found the captive lying on a bed with tape around his hands and feet.

The abducted man has been wanted by British police on an European arrest warrant in connection with a money-laundering offence. He had previously been jailed for cocaine and ecstasy offences.

Meanwhile, the Cork businessman has also been linked by police with another shipment of cannabis resin recovered in Spain last December. The total street value of the two consignments is €11.4m.

Irish Independent