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Daily Record
Daily Record
National
John Scheerhout & Lynn Love

Dramatic moment Spanish cops arrest Scots couple accused of gangland money laundering

Dramatic video footage shows the moment Spanish cops arrested a Scots couple accused of gangland money laundering at their plush home in Marbella.

Johnny Morrissey was handcuffed, alongside his wife Nicola, at dawn before being led away by a crack team of Spanish investigators.

Morrissey, 62, was held on suspicion of money laundering following simultaneous raids at his home on the Costa Del Sol, and other properties in Spain, Glasgow and Heywood in Greater Manchester.

He is alleged to have laundered up to £173m of dirty money in just 18 months, reports Manchester Evening News.

Johnny Morrissey was handcuffed by Spanish cops during a raid at his home (Guardia Civil)

Footage released by the Spanish authorities today shows the moment Guardia Civil officers raided the couple's gated Marbella home.

Nicola, boss of a Glasgow-based Vodka firm, gave photographers the finger as she was led away.

A helicopter, using an infra red camera, captured the moment cops went into the house before they removed a string of items: a painting of a nude hanging on a wall, a number of watches and a machete.

Morrissey, wearing just shorts, was pictured sitting handcuffed in a chair as the search continued around him.

A bottle of Nero vodka was seen in a display cabinet - although his wife is said to be the CEO, Morrissey is alleged to control the company and has been accused of allegedly using it as a front for money laundering.

In another clip, now wearing a t-shirt, he is captured seated in the kitchen of the home, which has a pool and a series of security cameras, moments before he is led away.

As part of the same operation, the footage shows a huge number of packages, believed to contain drugs, concealed in a people carrier following an earlier raid while, at another raid in a remote compound in the hills above Marbella, a number of high end cars are searched, revealing more hidden compartments.

Cash counting machines are seen counting bundles of notes in another clip.

Johnny and Nicola Morrissey (UGC)

In another expensive-looking property still under construction with a sea view, the video shows police in a weights room with a picture on the wall featuring images of Irish UFC fighter Connor McGregor.

Detectives in Spain say they have now smashed the most significant international crime organisation specialising in cleaning dirty cash operating in the country.

They estimated Irish passport holder Johnny Morrissey, sanctioned earlier this year by US authorities as an alleged enforcer for the Ireland based Kinahan cartel, could have laundered more than £173m in the last 18 months alone.

Detectives in Spain say the cash had not been physically moved out of Spain but spread throughout the world using an informal money transfer system called Hawala.

A spokesman for the Civil Guard confirmed they have arrested three people as part of their operation. Although not named, two of them are Morrissey and his wife Nicola.

A Civil Guard spokesman said: “The Civil Guard, through an operation dubbed Whitewall, has smashed the most important international criminal organisation that operated in Spain dedicated to money laundering.

“In a little over a year and a half they could have laundered more than EUROS two hundred million (£173m) through the system known as Hawala.”

Morrissey was held on suspicion of money laundering. Nicola was released on Wednesday following a court appearance. She is thought to have been released under investigation.

Morrissey has been identified by US authorities in April as a key aide of the Kinahan Organised Crime Gang (Guardia Civil)

Monday’s arrests took place after a lengthy probe led by the Guardia Civil's elite Central Operative Unit.

Officers from the Garda, Britain’s National Crime Agency, Europol and the powerful US DEA law enforcement agency took part in the culmination of the police operation.

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 nearly half a million euros in cash hidden in vehicles with 'sophisticated concealment systems'.

As well as the three arrests in Spain, a former Costa del Sol-based Irish expat was held in the UK, according to the authorities in Spain.

Nearly a dozen searches of residential and business premises took place in Spain as well as Britain, including two places in Glasgow thought to be related to Nero Drinks and one in Heywood in Rochdale.

The Guardia Civil said: “The main target in Spain devoted himself to collecting large amounts of money in cash from criminal organisations operating in our country and handing it through the Hawala system to organised criminal groups in other countries and vice-versa.

“Investigators were able to corroborate that during the time the investigation lasted, he allegedly managed to transfer more than EUROS two hundred million.”

They continued: “The principal members of the organisation in Spain allegedly created a luxury vodka brand promoted at shows, parties and events at nightclubs and restaurants in luxury Costa del Sol environments, presenting it as a successful drinks brand.

“This couldn’t be further from reality because according to information from tax authorities, it couldn’t be funding the lifestyle of the people arrested.

“Similarly they allegedly created another firm in the UK which was dependent on another company created in Gibraltar, with the aim of hiding the true identity of the directors of the firms that were used to launder the money coming from Hawala.”

It was reported earlier this year that Johnny Morrissey was among seven alleged members of the Kinahan cartel sanctioned by the US government.

John Francis Morrissey, aka Johnny Morrissey, is the Irish gang's alleged 'enforcer' and money launderer who 'facilitates international drug shipments' from south America into Europe for the gang, according to the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Said to have worked for the cartel for 'several years', the M.E.N. understands Ireland-born Morrissey was raised in Rochdale and spent much of his early life earning a fearsome reputation in Manchester before moving to Marbella in Spain.

Morrissey is the 'brand ambassador' for Nero Drinks but 'controls and operates' the company through the primary shareholder, his wife, according to the US Treasury.

She is 'used as a frontperson for his interests'. Nicola Margaret Morrissey, 46, is listed as the company's sole director, according to Companies House.

The OFAC states Johnny Morrissey 'has given a significant portion of the business' to Daniel Kinahan, said to run 'day-today operations' for the gang, to 'compensate for loads of drugs seized by law enforcement'. Dubai-based Daniel Kinahan has also been sanctioned.

Kinahan 'instructed' other gang members to send money to serving prisoners including one serving time for murder, according to the US Treasury.

"Daniel Kinahan, who sources large quantities of cocaine from South America, plays an integral part in organizing the supply of drugs in Ireland, and is attempting to facilitate the importation of cocaine into the United Kingdom. Daniel Kinahan is known to have used false identity documents," said OFAC.

Today (Thursday) the NCA said officers have searched addresses in Greater Manchester and Glasgow 'in support of an international investigation into drug smuggling and money laundering linked to alleged members of the Kinahan organised crime group'.

Their statement added: "The searches follow three arrests made by the Spanish Guardia Civil in the Costa del Sol, Spain, on Monday 12 September. Among those detained were a male Irish national and his British wife.

"The Irish national was previously sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Asset Control in the United States in April 2022, following an investigation involving the NCA.

"Spanish investigators believe the organised crime group laundered hundreds of millions of pounds through companies in the UK, Gibraltar and Spain.

"The UK searches took place on Tuesday, September 13, and involved domestic residential premises in Heywood, Rochdale; Stepps, Glasgow; and an address in Newton Place, central Glasgow.

"The searches in Glasgow were carried out by officers from the Organised Crime Parnership (Scotland), a joint unit comprising NCA and Police Scotland staff. A number of items including documents, mobile phones and a quantity of cash were seized. No arrests were made.

"The investigation has involved law enforcement partners in the UK, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States, and follows the seizure of more than 200kg of cocaine and half a million euros in the Malaga region in early 2021."

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