GANGSTER’S L-AIRBNB |
Kinahan cartel enforcer Johnny Morrissey rented out villa to holidaymakers for €6k a week
Cartel money man and former doorman has two mansions in Spain, one valued at eye-watering €5m and another at €3m
Gerard CouzensSunday World
Today at 08:23
Kinahan Cartel enforcer Johnny Morrissey has had to swap these millionaire mansions and meet and greets with celebs for a tiny Spanish jail cell.
His current abode in Alhaurin de la Torre prison is a world away from the luxury villa with a swimming pool and outdoor sauna, near Marbella,that he and his Scottish wife Nicola called home shortly before their arrests on Monday.
The seven-bedroom €5 million fortress lies behind high walls lined with metal fencing and cameras and is one of the properties police searched after taking Morrissey and his partner prisoner at a nearby address they had moved to weeks earlier.
Its garage, the size of a small family home, easily has enough space for the expensive motors the former Cork restaurant owner likes to drive, which over the years have included a VIP armoured car.
Well-placed sources said yesterday the couple had been renting the villa out to holidaymakers for up to €6,000-a-week while they “laid low” elsewhere after US authorities publicly identified Morrissey as a key member of the Kinahan Cartel.
The last of their Airbnb tenants left two days before Spanish Civil Guard officers specialising in tackling organised crime went in with a court order looking for incriminating evidence.
They also inspected a €3 million pad overlooking the Med a 15-minute drive away near Fuengirola, that the 62-year-old Irish passport holder owns and which his “gangster’s moll” had wanted to turn into a wellness centre.
Neighbours said yesterday they had seen Morrissey, who grew up in Greater Manchester and used to work as a doorman in Rochdale, visiting the mansion regularly over the past few weeks.
It is still being renovated, but stacks of cash have clearly gone into modernising the property, which has had new windows fitted and improvements made to the massive roof terrace offering unhindered sea views.
A huge poolside BBQ and kitchen area built in an expanded gazebo is largely untouched from the days when Morrissey and his wife hosted lavish parties while they still lived there before the start of the Covid pandemic.
One Spanish local, who asked not to be named, said:
“He had different cars but I remember him driving a black Range Rover. He also used to boast about having an armour-plated vehicle.
“We called him El Calvo which in English means Baldy. He didn’t talk openly about how he made his money and you didn’t ask.”
The US move to name him as a Kinahan enforcer, drugs facilitator and money launderer in April is believed to have been behind Morrissey’s decision to leave the last big home he had been sharing with Nicola and their 10-year-old son and turn it temporarily into a holiday rental property.
Despite Morrissey’s reputation, celebrities lined up to be pictured beside him at Costa parties where he turned on the charm as ambassador for Nero Vodka.
He and his wife posed for selfies with former Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan and her husband Mark Wright – with a vodka bottle always in the camera shot.
Actor Will Mellor was persuaded to have his photo taken with the drink in his hand and gushed: “I absolutely love Nero. Simply the best vodka around, there is nothing else quite like it. Pure, smooth and sippable.”
Celebrity Juice host Keith Lemon, real name Leigh Francis, also agreed to pose with a bottle of Nero Vodka for publicity shots for the drink, marketed under the logo ‘The Undefeatable Spirit.’
Spanish police called it a “front company” after arresting Morrissey and his wife, insisting there was no way it could be financing the couple’s luxury lifestyle.
They claimed the former doorman’s alleged money-laundering operation could wash up to €350,000 of dirty cash a day through an ancient cash transfer system called Hawala, which bypasses traditional bank controls.
Spanish police are convinced Morrissey, a regular at a shooting range near Malaga, knew his days of freedom were nearing their end after his ‘outing’ as an alleged Kinahan key member.
One acquaintance said: “His birthday is in December and he usually does a big party around then but this year he surprised everyone by hosting it in August.
“It was as if he knew he was about to be lifted and wanted to make sure he had a final knees-up in case he couldn’t later on.”
Morrissey was one of seven people, including crime boss Christopher Kinahan Sr and his son Daniel, hit with sanctions and named by the US department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The US authorities said of the underworld figure, 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.”
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 more than €200,000 million 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.
The informal Hawala method of moving money 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.
Morrissey allegedly used it to move huge amounts of cash made from illegal activities, including drugs trafficking, around the world.
He and a British man who has not been named were remanded in custody following a 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. Her whereabouts is currently unknown.