| 13.1°C Dublin

Fugitive Traynor was living with Gilligan mobster, Fatso Mitchell

VERONICA Guerin murder suspect John 'The Coach' Traynor was arrested while carrying the driving licence of a close associate of Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell.

It is also understood that during a follow-up search of Traynor's Amsterdam apartment, notorious gangster Mitchell himself was found lounging in the living-room.

The close links between the exiled Irish criminals became apparent after Dutch police arrested Traynor 11 days ago.

Like Traynor, Dublin native Mitchell (40) has lived abroad, in Spain and the Netherlands, since departing Ireland 14 years ago in the wake of the murder of reporter Guerin.

Traynor (62) has reportedly been under surveillance from Dutch authorities in recent weeks who were acting on information supplied Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Garda and criminal sources have alleged that Traynor travels regularly between southern Spain, Amsterdam and Brussels to organise large-scale cannabis deals.

Traynor was arrested in the Amstelveen area of the Netherlands on Monday, August 23, when Dutch police caught him carrying the driving licence of a well-known Dublin drug trafficker who was sent to jail in the late 1990s. He had been living as a fugitive for the past 18 years.

More details of his arrest -- and his connection to 'Fatso' Mitchell -- are now emerging.


Security sources said that the owner of the driving licence is a close associate of Mitchell, who forged a close relationship with 'The Coach' during their self-imposed exile.

Mitchell, from Summerhill in Dublin, has been living in the Netherlands since early 2008 after he survived an assassination attempt. A chief lieutenant in John Gilligan's gang, he was shot at a cafe on the Costa Del Sol.

Despite their exile, Mitchell and Traynor remained heavily involved in organised crime.

Last December, Mitchell was cleared of gun charges in Amsterdam. He had previously been in custody there since June 2009 for possession of weapons, false documents and money laundering. He was cleared of the charges on a technicality.

Meanwhile, it's emerged that gardai cannot extradite Traynor on criminal charges because of insufficient evidence against him, despite his known links to serious crime.

The Coach has no outstanding warrants in Ireland even though he was linked to a variety of criminal activities including robbery, embezzlement, drugs and prostitution.

Traynor was suspected of supplying information to Gilligan's drugs gang, who carried out the murder of the journalist.

Traynor was an underworld source for Guerin and she kept in regular contact with him.

Traynor had been on the run since November 1992 when he failed to return to the Highpoint prison in Suffolk, England, after he had been allowed home on a short visit to his wife and four children.

He had absconded from jail after serving one year out of a seven-year sentence handed down for his involvement in the theft of bonds after a planned sting operation by the British police in 1990.

Under Dutch legislation he will face extradition proceedings in the next six weeks after which he will be sent to the UK to see out his sentence.

His whereabouts in recent years have been well-known to gardai, British police and their European counterparts, even though he has been officially listed as missing in the UK.

Despite this an extradition order has never been sought against the career criminal.

It was suspected that Traynor was regarded as useful to police, who kept him under regular surveillance as he associated with other criminals.

He was closely linked to Martin 'The General' Cahill's gang and John Gilligan's drug gang despite the fact that Gilligan named him in court as the man who ordered the hit on Guerin, a claim he strenuously denied.