Britons in Costa gang war

LAST UPDATED: 20 Oct, 2008 @ 07:56
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Third shooting in a month due to an unpaid drugs debt as British criminals muscle back into Spanish drugs trade

POLICE believe that a British man shot in Marbella last week may have been involved in the shooting at Nikki Beach last month.

Detectives think that the Liverpudlian, who was shot five times, may have connections to the attack that left three Mancunians injured and the club deciding to close prematurely for the season.

The man from Liverpool – who is in his 30s and whose initials were given as M.H – was shot at point-blank range in the eye, genitals, pelvis, arm and leg as he left a restaurant in Puerto Banus.

His attacker – a hired hitman – is said to be British and about 1.90m in height with blond hair.

The broad daylight attack happened after the victim left Solly’s Diner, near Corte Ingles, to return to his black BMW, which was parked on a yellow line outside.

A witness told the Olive Press: “His body was convulsing but he could utter a few words.”

The alleged gang leader, who police say has a criminal record in the UK, has had two operations, but is now said to be serious, but stable in hospital.

According to sources, he is understood to lead a gang that has close links to the smuggling of marijuana from Morocco into Europe.

Hired hitman

Until recently British gangs had largely left the smuggling of marijuana to French-Algerian gangs, who were more likely to resort to violence.

But police sources told El Mundo, that the recent spate of shootings – three in a month – appear to involve British gangs moving back on the scene.

Detectives believe that the shooting in Marbella ‘by a hired hitman’ may have come about after MH failed to pay for a shipment of drugs.

Another source told the Olive Press: “There are two big British gangs from Manchester and Liverpool, who are muscling in on the lucrative drug trade.

“There are bound to be knock on effects.”

The victim has been living in an exclusive urbanisation in Cancelada, Estepona for the last few years. His home was searched at the weekend as police tried to establish a motive for the shooting.

It is the third shooting in Marbella in a month with Irish gangster Peter Mitchell shot as he sat on the terrace of El Jardin bar, in Aloha, two days before the Nikki Beach incident.

Earlier this year infamous Irish gangster Paddy Doyle was shot in Estepona.

Minister for the Interior, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, said that it was thought the recent shooting was linked to a “settling of scores, probably over drugs”.

Politicians are coming under increasing pressure to deal with the crime situation on the Costa del Sol. A third of all Spain’s mafia gangs have their headquarters in Malaga province and since 2006 over 100 gangs have been disbanded.

A British professor recently finished a doctorate on the problem. Jennifer Sands from Leeds University said: “The area is attractive to mafia gangs because until recently the Spanish authorities did not take it seriously.”

It emerged this week that two men, one English, have been arrested and remanded in custody for the shooting at Nikki Beach. In the incident three Britons were shot, one in both legs.

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