Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Drug suspect held in Athens pub

Kevin Hanley was at a pub in Athens to watch the British and Irish Lions match against Australia when Greek and British officers pounced

A British man wanted in connection with the seizure of millions of pounds worth of drugs was caught as he settled in to watch the British and Irish Lions' rugby triumph against Australia at a pub in Greece.

Kevin Hanley, 50, was at the pub in Athens when Greek and British officers captured him in a sting operation on Saturday.

He had evaded police capture since November when officers discovered more than £2 million cash and millions of pounds worth of drugs at a property in Fulham, London.

Officers from Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and Greek police arrested Hanley on a European warrant for money laundering and conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine. Extradition proceedings are under way.

Greek police said Hanley had taken "extensive precautions" to avoid arrest, with "frequent changes of address, telephones and cars" - using several dual-sim mobile phones and coded text messages.

Hanley, from Fulham, was the right-hand man of drugs baron Brian Brendan Wright - nicknamed "The Milkman" because he always delivered - the boss of the most successful global cocaine trafficking network discovered in the UK. Hanley was arrested in November 1998 in London in a car which contained 64lb of cocaine in the boot with a street value of more than £2 million. He was sentenced to 15 years after admitting importation and conspiracy to supply.

Wright was the criminal mastermind behind an organisation overseeing the shipment of tonnes of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of pounds from South America using luxury yachts. He was jailed for 30 years in 2007 after an "unprecedented" 11-year Customs investigation to smash the gang. It was sparked in September 1996 when a yacht named Sea Mist was discovered off course in Cork, Ireland, carrying 1,320lb of cocaine - with an estimated street value of £80 million - hidden in a dumb waiter.

Greek national Chryssi Minadaki, 44, who was living in Fulham at the time of the drugs seizure in November, was also arrested on Saturday.

Brendan Foreman, regional head of investigations at Soca, said: "These arrests were a direct result of our close co-operation with the Greek authorities. Operations like this remind the public that Soca and its partners will stop at nothing to take down those suspected of being involved in drug trafficking."

In the seizure, police found 44.1lb of cocaine, 33.1lb of cannabis and 33.1lb of amphetamine, as well as £2.1 million in cash. Five other suspects - four men and one woman - from London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Gloucestershire have also been arrested in Britain in connection with the operation.

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