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Streets of the Costa del Crime are new gang killing fields

Some years ago I travelled to the Costa del Sol.

During my time there I bumped into an old detective colleague from my days in Dublin.

My pal, who had retired to Spain, took me on a guided tour of Mijas, Estepona and Marbella. He pointed out the unsuspecting bars, cafes and gyms that were the haunts of the major Irish gangland figures there.

It was here that the Irish criminal fraternity rubbed shoulders with the Russian mafia and other Eastern European and North African gangs.

This was also the area where the so-called 'Dapper Don', Christy Kinahan, headquartered his drug operations.

And it was in this part of the world that Dubliner Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh (right) met his end in a hail of bullets last weekend.


Kavanagh was reportedly a drug debt collector for the Kinahan mob. He was also a violent career criminal with drugs convictions here, who apparently decided to move to Spain after being targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Little good it did him in the end. He was shot dead in an Irish bar, near Marbella at 5pm last Saturday.

I never encountered Gerard Kavanagh but during my 11 years as a detective serving in the Drimnagh area in the late 80s and 90s I had several encounters with his notorious gangster uncle, Jo Jo Kavanagh.

Jo Jo, one of The General Martin Cahill's lieutenants, was eventually caught and jailed over the abduction of a bank director in a failed extortion plot.

Gerard Kavanagh himself was a dangerous mobster and a much feared enforcer for Kinahan's drug syndicate.

There's no doubt that his shooting will lead to revenge attacks and killings in the near future and not necessarily in Spain.


Such is the nature of Irish gangland nowadays that the link between Dublin and the Costa is a strong one, with criminals moving back and forth with ease. Witness how easy Hatchet was shot.

I've no doubt there will be a number of Irish gangsters looking over their shoulders this week as they sip their sangria in the Spanish sun.

One lesson to be taken from Kavanagh's murder is that the Costa del Crime can no longer be viewed as the relatively safe haven it was until now for Irish criminals.

The streets of Marbella and Estepona look like becoming the new killing fields in the murderous feuds of Irish gangland.