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Alleged gangster Johnny Morrissey and his stylish wife Nicola became ‘the neighbours from hell’ after swapping their £4.5 million Marbella mansion for a downsized £260,000 hideaway apartment, it has been claimed.
The UK-born Irish passport holder and his Scots ‘moll’ scaled back to a modest rented £1,040-a-month top-floor flat this summer in an attempt to lay low after US authorities publicly named the former Rochdale doorman as an alleged money launderer and enforcer for crime boss Daniel Kinahan.
The move did not prove effective – just a few months later, a crack team of armed Spanish cops smashed through the front door of Morrissey’s humble abode, a world away from the glamour of the lifestyle he and his wife flaunted on social media and at PR events for their drinks firm.
Neighbours at the unassuming apartment block near Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol told yesterday how they quickly the pair got on the wrong side of other expats and locals after moving in over the summer.
Johnny Morrissey is escorted from his Marbella apartment by Spanish cops after being arrested last week
The UK-born Irish passport holder and his Scots ‘moll’ scaled back from a huge villa to a modest rented £1,040-a-month flat – but that did not stop the Spanish police from arresting him
Nicola Morrissey, CEO of a Scotland-based vodka firm linked by police to organised crime, raised her middle finger as she was walked out by armed Spanish cops
Johnny Morrissey and his stylish wife Nicola became ‘the neighbours from hell’ when they moved into a block of flats in Marbella in an attempt to lay low from authorities
Morrissey is an alleged money launderer and enforcer for crime boss Daniel Kinahan (pictured)
This image shows Spanish police making their way into the building to extract Morrissey
One neighbour said: ‘They’d only just unpacked when Nicola had a run-in with the community president.
‘It was around the time the kids were breaking up from school and she wanted to do a children’s party around the community pool with a water slide and a bouncy castle.
‘She was told she couldn’t because it was a communal area and got very aggressive.
‘Her husband stayed out of it and must have been a bit embarrassed about it all if he was looking to keep a low profile.’
Another local said: ‘They had dogs including an Alsatian and they used to hose down the poop the animals did on the outside corridor leading up to their front door so it ran off the edge and onto the properties below.
‘It was totally unacceptable behaviour. They quickly got a reputation as the neighbours from hell.’
Morrissey was about to be ordered to take down a camera over the front door of the three-bed penthouse flat when he was arrested.
The community managers had been asked to tell the former Cork restaurant owner it was illegal to have the camera pointing out onto the street and other areas used by his neighbours.
The camera meant he could tell who was outside the main entrance to the gated block if anyone tried to get into the enclosed area.
But it failed to alert him to the well-planned police operation to snare him because he was fast asleep when they moved in.
Officers from an elite Spanish Civil Guard unit GAR – a Rapid Action Group which traces its origins to a rural antiterrorist unit formed more than four decades ago – gained entry to his apartment.
They had keys to the entrance gate to the block and are understood to have reached the third floor where Morrissey lived from a basement garage – but they smashed down a gate and the front door to his flat before surrounding him in his bed at gunpoint.
A machete was found in the search after Monday’s raid which has been celebrated by Spanish police
Officers were also filmed putting wads of confiscated cash through counting machines
Who are the Kinahan gang?
The Kinahan cartel is said to have emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the most ‘powerful organised crime group’ operating in Ireland, founded by Christy Kinahan.
His criminal history dates back to the 1970s and includes house breaking, car theft, burglary, handling stolen goods and forgery.
Irish police said the gang have gone from dealing heroin and cocaine in Dublin to operating across Europe.
Irish courts have said that the Kinahan gang is a ‘murderous organisation’ involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms.
Criminal activities include international money laundering, generating proceeds in the UK, which are then pooled together and passed to local criminals before being handed to Irish organised crime group members and laundered out of the UK.
The Kinahans also frequently use Dubai as a facilitation hub for its ‘illicit activities’.
Since February 2016, the criminal gang has been involved in a gang war with another group in Ireland and Spain, resulting in numerous murders, including of two innocent bystanders.
A wide range of criminality, including more than a dozen murders, is estimated to have generated over a billion euros.
In April this year, the US offered a $5million reward for help arresting the leaders of the trafficking gang.
Daniel Kinahan, one of the three leaders named by U.S. authorities, has been involved in organising high profile boxing fights in recent years.
He was credited by world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury with helping broker a potential unification bout two years ago.
The speed and efficiency of the police operation meant some residents at the apartment block, where many flats are currently empty after the close of the peak tourism season, were unaware of the arrests until days later.
The management company had been asked for keys to the entrance gate three days before the detentions, but police had not given them any details about why they needed them.
One local said: ‘I heard a huge bang which was probably the moment they stormed the flat but nothing after that and I went back to sleep.
‘It was really early, around 6.40am.’
Morrissey, 62, was allowed to put on a green T-shirt and white trainers before being led out in handcuffs in the tropical shorts he is believed to have been sleeping in.
The two children in the apartment, his 10-year-old son with Nicola and an older daughter from a previous relationship, were taken away separately.
His unceremonious arrest contrasted with the glamorous lifestyle he and his wife flaunted through a vodka firm called Nero Drinks Company, which she headed up as CEO.
Police say it was a front to camouflage her husband’s alleged criminal activities.
In an interview with Marbella-based business and lifestyle magazine Exclusive Life, Nicola spoke about their plans to open a wellness centre near La Cala de Mijas at another property she and Johnny lived at years ago.
She gushed: ‘A busy year for sure. Nero Drinks Company will continue to support and work with local venues, adding more to our client list as well as launching in Majorca, Tenerife, the UK and we are finalising plans to launch in America.’
She added in the interview, titled At Home With Nicola Morrissey: ‘We are also opening an exclusive, five-star wellness retreat overlooking the sea in La Cala.
‘We have been busy overseeing the luxury building project, gathering an expert team to deliver the latest therapies and treatments.
‘We will have a full-time nutritionist, in-house yoga and meditation specialist, colonic hydrotherapy, cryotherapy and lots more.’
Morrissey was one of seven people including crime boss Christopher Kinahan Sr and his son Daniel hit with sanctions and named in April by the US department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Last year, Spanish police seized 200kg of cocaine and 500,000 Euros stashed in cars with ‘sophisticated concealment systems’
Johnny Morrissey is arrested in the Costa del Sol while shirtless after a raid by the Civil Guard
The US authorities Morrissey was so close to alleged cartel boss Daniel Kinahan he was invited to his wedding in Dubai in the summer of 2017.
‘John Morrissey has worked for the Kinahan Organised Crime Group (KOCG) for several years, including as an enforcer, and facilitates international drug shipments for the organisation from South America. John Morrissey is also involved in money laundering,’ US authorities said.
Nero Drinks was one of three companies included in the list and banned from trading in the States.
The Spanish Civil Guard, who led the operation against Morrissey through its elite UCO unit with support from Garda, Britain’s National Crime Agency and the powerful US DEA law enforcement agency, say they believe he allegedly helped crime gangs launder millions in the 18 months their investigation lasted.
They described it as the ‘most important international criminal organisation that operated in Spain dedicated to money laundering’ in their only official comments so far.
Morrissey and a British man who has not been named were remanded in custody following a behind-closed-doors court appearance in Marbella on Wednesday.
The other suspect is a second hand car salesman said to have provided Morrissey with modified vehicles where cash could be hidden in secret compartments.
Morrissey’s 46-year-old wife has been bailed but remains under investigation as part of an ongoing judicial investigation led by a judge probing suspected money laundering and criminal gang membership crimes. Her whereabouts is currently unknown.
Inside the Kinahan Cartel: How Dublin crooks built a £1BILLION global empire linked to murder, drug-smuggling and gun-running – as alleged bagman ‘Johnny Cash’ is arrested in Spain
By CHRIS PLEASANCE for MAILONLINE
When Christy Kinahan founded his drug-dealing ring in Dublin in the 1990s, he was already well-known to police as a crook – but almost nobody outside the local station had ever heard his name.
Now, he heads one of the world’s largest criminal gangs – on par with Italy’s Camorra mafia or Mexico’s notorious Los Zetas, according to American investigators – and his name is known across continents.
Dubbed the ‘Dapper Don’, his Kinahan Cartel – including sons Daniel and Christy Jr – is said to be worth £1billion with an operation that stretches from the cocaine plantations of South America through the inner cities of Ireland and the UK, via Spain’s Costa del Sol and to the glittering desert oasis of Dubai.
Over the course of three decades, the Kinahans and their associates – including an Estonia hitman dubbed ‘The Butcher’, an armourer known as ‘Mr Nobody’, and a gangland enforcer simply called ‘Hatchet’ – have been linked to drug smuggling, gun-running and murders including the notorious Kinahan-Hutch feud.
But the net is tightening. In March, their man in the UK – Thomas ‘The Bomber’ Kavanagh – was sentenced to 21 years in jail for smuggling. In April, the US State Department offered a bounty of $5million each for information on Christy Sr, Daniel or Christy Jr. And, this week, alleged bagman – Johnny ‘Cash’ Morrissey – was arrested in Spain.
Here, MailOnline breaks down exactly who the Kinahan Cartel are, what they are accused of, and how they rose from the streets of Dublin to become one of the world’s biggest and most-powerful criminal networks…
Christy Kinahan Sr, known as ‘Dapper Don’ (left), began the Kinahan Cartel as a drug-dealing ring in Dublin in the 1990s and has expanded it into a global empire. Son Daniel (right) is accused of running day-to-day operations of the gang, which including drug smuggling, gun-running and money laundering
Christy Kinahan wasn’t born to a life of crime, it was a life he chose. Raised by a middle-class family and sent to one of Ireland’s best schools, he was smart, engaging and had options. He opted to become a crook.
His rap sheet goes back to the 1970s, when he was known to police for burglary, theft, forgery and property crimes. It was not until the late 1990s that he turned to the business of drug dealing that would make his name.
Originally running an inner-Dublin dealing ring with old associate Thomas Kavanagh, Kinahan was harbouring bigger ambitions. Jailed in the late 90s for drugs offences, he used his time behind bars to become fluent in Spanish and Dutch – skills he put to use upon his release to take his trade international.
Dealing mostly in heroin and cocaine – according to US State Department investigators – he grew the ‘business’ into an empire, importing from South America and dealing into Ireland, the UK, and Europe.
Sons Daniel and Christy Jr were indoctrinated into the business, with Daniel accused by Dublin High Court in 2018 of running most of the day-to-day operations – which by then included arms dealing as well as drugs, across ‘Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America’. Christy Jr is said to run the accounts.
Christy Jr is said by US investigators to keep an eye on the gang’s accounts from his base of operations in Dubai
Daniel – who denies being linked to organised crime – also happens to be a boxing promoter, and has represented the likes of Tyson Fury. He was said to have been instrumental in putting together a bout between Fury and Anthony Joshua that was due to take place last year, before falling through.
Christy Sr had brushes with the law over the years, serving jail time in Belgium and the Netherlands, but – aside from a run-in between one of his associates and the Irish National Liberation Army – the gang operated with near-impunity as the Irish Gardai struggled to track their international operations.
All that changed in September 2015, however, when Gary Hutch – member of the rival Hutch Gang and nephew of leader Gerry – was shot dead at his home in Spain’s Costa Del Sol.
Gary had allegedly been working with Daniel Kinahan until the pair fell out over a scheme involving a kidnapped tiger. Rumours – later proved false – began to swirl that Gary was a snitch for Spanish authorities. Money changed hands and one of Gerry’s associated reportedly agreed to be shot in the leg as a ‘payment in blood’ for the alleged treachery.
None of that mattered in the end, however, and Gary was gunned down by hitman James Quinn – who has since been convicted of murder – after reportedly begging for his life.
That sparked a brutal and bloody gang war that became known as the Hutch-Kinahan Feud, with at least 18 people killed – most of them shot dead – over the course of the next three years. By the time it was over, most of the Hutch Gang were six feet under. Two innocent bystanders were also killed in cases of mistaken identity.
The height of the feud came in February 2016 when Daniel Kinahan narrowly survived an audacious attempt on his life that killed David Byrne, a Kinahan associate and brother of Liam Byrne – one of the gang’s senior members.
Daniel, in his role as a promoter, was attending a weigh-in ahead of a boxing match that would see Jamie Kavanagh – whose father, Gerard ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh, was an enforcer for the gang – face off against Portuguese fighter Antonio João Bento.
As those linked to the fight milled about in the lobby of the Regency Hotel in Dublin, six Hutch Gang assassins carried out a raid. A getaway driver positioned himself outside the hotel while two others – one dressed as a woman – guarded the door with handguns. Three men, wearing Guardai riot gear, burst in through the door.
The Kinahans got involved in a notorious war with the Hutch Gang, run by Gerry Hutch (left) after his nephew Gary (right) was shot dead in Spain in September 2015
At the height of the feud, gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles and dressed as riot police burst into the lobby of the Regency Hotel in Dublin and opened fire – narrowly missing Daniel Kinahan but killing associate David Byrne
David Byrne’s body is pictured in the lobby of the hotel after he was cut down by machinegun fire. He was the brother of Liam Byrne, one of the Kinahan Cartel’s most-senior members
Wielding AK-47 rifles, the trio opened fire in the lobby, killing Byrne. Daniel survived, and later claimed he had seen the rifles being pulled 20ft away and narrowly escaped as gunfire rang out.
The feud prompted authorities to ramp up their efforts to catch the gang, bringing in the UK’s National Crime Agency, the EU’s Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, and US State Department – due to the South American connection.
In March, they struck their first serious blow against the gang as Thomas Kavanagh and two associates – Daniel Canning and Gary Vickery – were jailed on guns, drugs and money laundering charges.
Kavanagh got 21 years for smuggling £30million worth of cocaine and cannabis hidden inside industrial equipment. Police who raided his bullet-proofed mansion in Tamworth, near Birmingham, also found hauls of cash and weapons. His conviction marked the downfall of the UK branch of operations.
Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh, originally from Dublin, ran UK operations for the Kinahan Cartel until he was jailed earlier this year for a total of 21 years for drug smuggling
The following month, the US State Department sanctioned seven other members of the gang – most of whom are now based in Dubai – and issued $5million rewards for information on Christy Sr, Daniel, and Christy Jr.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said at the time that, while the gang heads may have run from the law in the past, they would not be able to keep running forever – and would soon run out of money.
Earlier this week, the second blow was struck: Johnny ‘Cash’ Morrissey, accused of handling the group’s money-laundering operations, was arrested in Spain.
Morrissey, a former Rochdale doorman with an Irish passport, was detained after a raid on his home while he was sat topless. Spanish police said the raid had smashed the gang’s operations there, accusing Morrissey of helping to launder some £300,000 per day.
Spanish detectives alleged that cash had not been physically moved out of Spain but spread throughout the world using an ancient money transfer system called Hawala.
The informal method of moving money, originating from an Arabic term for transfer or trust and involving a network of brokers, is known to have been adopted by criminal gangs who use code numbers or tokens like banknotes torn in half to prove cash is due.
Detectives said the starting point for the Spanish police investigation had been the seizure at the start of last year of 200 kilograms of cocaine and 500,000 Euros (£430,000) in cash hidden in vehicles with ‘sophisticated concealment systems’.
Alongside Morrissey, Spanish police arrested his wife Nicola – who was later released – and another associate. A third man was held in the UK.
Nearly a dozen searches of residential and business premises took place in Spain as well as Britain, including two places in Glasgow and one in Heywood in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
Johnny Morrissey, full name John Francis Morrissey, was one of seven people hit with sanctions in April and named by the US department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).