SPANISH police say the John Gilligan gun – now the focus of an international police investigation – was hidden “like a souvenir” in the garden of his villa on the Costa Blanca.
Detectives behind the discovery of the weapon believe, after a raid on the convicted drug smuggler’s solar home, that it could be vital in the Veronica Guerin case because of its rarity and the way it was concealed.
The Spanish police have already confirmed that it is the same “make and model” as the one with which the Dublin crime reporter was murdered in June 1996. However, it took “months” to determine whether it was the murder weapon.
But investigators involved in breaking up a Costa drug gang allegedly led by Gilligan believe suggestions from Ireland that it is “highly unlikely” that the 37-year-old will be caught at a traffic light on the outskirts of Dublin Weapon was killed, quite “mislaid”.
The weapon that was confiscated from the Irishman’s house in Torrevieja near Alicante on Tuesday is a Colt Python .357 Magnum – a weapon identical to that used to kill Ms. Guerin.
The serial number has been deleted.
The crime resulted in Gilligan’s trial and acquittal for murder and a 28-year prison sentence for importing two tons of cannabis resin valued at IR £ 32 million.
“WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE”
A well-placed Spanish source said: “On the one hand, it would not make sense for Gilligan to leave the murder weapon at home because it would incriminate him.
“But this weapon was not used, on the contrary.
“It was hidden by someone who put the gun in a hole they dug in the ground and covered with gravel and some sort of cloth that you could use to keep weeds from getting through before more gravel was piled on it.
“Typically, criminals keep their guns in places where they can be easily reached, like in a bedside drawer.
“But this one was kept as if it were a keepsake from someone who did not want to part with it, outside where it was easy to find and well hidden. It took a lot of work to find it. ”
Another insider added, “The Colt Python is no ordinary weapon like a Glock, Smith & Weston or Sig Sauer.
“It’s a big, cumbersome revolver, it’s not easy to hide, and the kind of weapon you rarely see. The .357 Magnum is not a caliber that is easy to sell. ”
A very experienced Spanish officer who specialized in the fight against organized crime announced that he had only seen two weapons of this type confiscated from Gilligan’s garden in the past 20 years.
He added: “It will be months before the police involved in this case determine whether or not the weapon was used to kill the Irish journalist.
“The Spanish police will contact Garda and receive the projectiles recovered from Veronica Guerin’s autopsy.
Police in Spain need to see if these projectiles were fired from the seized weapon.
“Every weapon is unique, like a fingerprint, and when you fire a cartridge, you leave micro-identifications that are characteristic of a particular weapon.
“The work will not be quick as the projectiles have to be recovered in Ireland and the projectiles or ballistics tests that were being carried out at the time were sent to Spain so that police experts can write a report here for the coroner.
“The fact that the weapon found in the police raids is so rare and of the same make and model as that used in the murder of the Irish journalist must make it very likely that it was the Murder weapon.
“If we were to talk about cars, this Colt Python could be equated with a Ferrari F40. We’re not talking about a Ford Focus or a Volkswagen Golf. ”
The Irish sun can also reveal that Gilligan, a petty thug, made secret trips to Ireland while overseeing his cannabis smuggling.
Gardai received news that the aging gangster, 68, was making more than five trips from Spain in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They believe that the geriatric hood flew north in disguise before it was collected and driven to the capital. There he is said to have held meetings with a gang of street vendors in West Dublin.
The gang, previously attacked by undercover agents as part of Operation Klaxon, have attempted to increase sales of cannabis and prescription pills in the Neilstown and Clondalkin areas of the capital.
They have also partnered with organized traveler gangs in West Dublin and Co Roscommon.
Although we revealed how Gilligan made money by sending packages of cannabis and pills to Ireland via unsuspecting couriers, Spanish police also believe his employees were also involved in the arms trade.
While investigating Gilligan and his associates in Spain, they received news that three 9mm handguns had been smuggled into Ireland.
One theory is that the guns were supposed to be used by a gang of travelers involved in a feud in the Midlands.
They later gave a reference to Gardai and the weapons were recovered in the west of Ireland in late September. But Gilligan’s latest criminal venture was dismantled after being attacked by the Policia Nacional in Alicante last week.
A source said: “There is information that Gilligan has come to Ireland from Spain several times.
“He has not traveled through Dublin Airport in the last few months and his preferred way of traveling has been Belfast. There is also no way that he would have isolated himself on his return to Ireland.
“Gilligan ran his newest business out of Spain and would only have come back here to raise funds and make sure everything was going smoothly.
“He did a drug operation from Spain, but it’s small compared to the levels he was at before.
“He’s now dealing with low-level drug dealers, while groups like the Kinahan Cartel, Mr Big and The Family are now in control of the drug market.”
Another source added, “This result shows that working with our international law enforcement colleagues in investigating identified targets involved in serious organized crime is critical to people’s safety.
“Our investigations into serious organized crime must go beyond our boundaries and audiences where real impact can be made.
“It is important to underline that the Spanish Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional have been working with the Gardai and especially the DOCB since 2015 to achieve significant results. This collaboration saves lives. ”
Prior to his arrest last week, Gilligan and his staff had been targeted by Spanish police for six weeks.
They launched an investigation after the UK’s National Crime Agency found Gilligan was sending drug packages to Ireland and the UK.
KIDNAP PLOT PROBE
They also received information that Gilligan and his staff had threatened to kidnap the daughter of a Romanian man on an unpaid drug debt.
The pint-sized hood has been located between Ireland and Spain since 2018. Its connection to the holiday villa on Calle Covadonga Torrevieja in Alicante goes back to the early 1990s.
Telephone taps are believed to have played a role in the longstanding investigation into the suspected drug trafficking gang. Spanish police claim that Gilligan led them.
Well-placed sources, however, said the raid on the drug lord’s mansion on Tuesday was crucial as he was preparing a shipment of marijuana and prescription sleeping pills known as zimmos to Ireland.
The insider said Gilligan was at his house with part of the shipment and two other suspects were in a car outside with two more boxes to be mailed.
Three Irish nationals, including Gilligan and his son Darren, were among the six arrests. The only woman arrested is a UK national.
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Gilligan has not yet been formally charged with a felony as the charges will be brought shortly before the trial in Spain.
It can take months and even years to open a criminal investigation like Gilligan.
He can be held in custody for up to four years without trial, although it is normal for most suspects to be released on bail after a maximum of two years.
The crook John Gilligan is currently being arrested by the Spanish police in Alicante
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