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Police arrest Irish narco in Torrevieja

An international police operation has led to the arrest of a well-known Irish drug lord, believed to have connections to the unsolved murder of prominent Irish investigative journalist, Veronica Guerin, in 1996.


During the joint investigation, between Spanish National Police, the NCA, (National Crime Agency) and Irish police, agents intercepted packages containing, four kilos of marijuana and 15,000 pills, classed as hypnotic drugs.

The year-long investigation to establish the supply route used by sixty-eight-year-old Irishman, John Gilligan and his gang also resulted in the arrest of six other people and the recovery of four further kilos of packaged marijuana buds, 11,000 pills, two vehicles, ten mobile phones, various documents and postal receipts, from four properties in the Vega Baja district.

Initially, the operation focused on tracking packages of drugs, which were hidden in parcels sent to the UK and Ireland, leading to the officers in Ireland gaining information regarding an arms deal in that country, which they intercepted, seizing three 9mm, parabellum calibre pistols, loaded and ready for use.

A total of six people have been arrested in the operation, which police believe has led to the complete disbandment of the gang.

At the head of the organisation was, the well-known Irish criminal John Gilligan, who led the violent group of drug and arms traffickers.

Gilligan had been investigated in the past for various crimes and had even served time behind bars.

He was sentenced in 2001 to 28 years in prison, of which, he served 17 on appeal, for importing large quantities of hashish to Ireland. Some years later he was shot four times at his brother’s house but managed to recover from the injuries.

Last year, a case against Gilligan, later dismissed, when he was arrested at Belfast International Airport with € 22,280 in cash as he was about to board a flight to Alicante .

Alerted by this situation, the Spanish National police asked for international cooperation, which made it possible to identify the rest of the gang members, who included Gilligan’s son.

The co-ordinated police operation is also investigating a possible connection to the high profile murder of Guerin, shot and killed by two motorcyclists on the outskirts of Dublin. An unsolved crime, later made into a feature film, Veronica Guerin, starring Cate Blanchett, in the title role, in 2003.

A gun found buried in the garden of one of the Torrevieja properties searched in the operation, was revealed as a Colt Python revolver, which matched the description of the type involved in the murder of the journalist. Officers are waiting for confirmation on whether it could be the actual weapon used.

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