The couple scaled back to a modest rented €1,200-a-month top-floor flat after US authorities publicly named Morrissey as a key member of the Kinahan Cartel.
The couple had previously invited a glossy Marbella magazine into the mansion they called home.
That was before Morrissey was identified as an alleged money launderer and Kinahan enforcer, by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The couple moved into an unassuming apartment block near Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol over the summer.
Neighbours told yesterday how they quickly got on the wrong side of other expats and locals after moving in.
One local said: “They had dogs, including an Alsatian, and they used to hose down the poop the animals did on the outside corridor leading up to their front door so it ran off the edge and onto the properties below.
“It was totally unacceptable behaviour. They quickly got a reputation as the neighbours from hell.”
Morrissey was about to be ordered to take down a camera over the front door of the three-bed penthouse flat when he was arrested.
The community managers had been asked to tell the former Cork restaurant owner it was illegal to have the camera pointing out onto the street, and other areas used by his neighbours.
The camera meant he could tell who was outside the main entrance to the gated block, if anyone tried to get into the enclosed area.
But it failed to alert him to the well-planned police operation – because he was fast asleep when they moved in.
Officers from an elite Spanish Civil Guard unit – the GAR – gained entry to his apartment.
They had keys to the entrance gate to the block and are understood to have reached the third floor where Morrissey lived from a basement garage.
They smashed down a gate and the front door to his flat before surrounding him in his bed at gunpoint.
The speed and efficiency of the police operation meant some residents at the apartment block were still unaware yesterday of the arrests.
The management company had been asked for keys to the entrance gate three days before the detentions, but police had not given them any details about why they needed them.
One local said: “I heard a huge bang which was probably the moment they stormed the flat but nothing after that and I went back to sleep. It was really early, around 6.40am.”
Manchester-born Morrissey (62) was allowed to put on a green T-shirt and white trainers before being led out in handcuffs in the tropical shorts he is believed to have been sleeping in.
In a previous interview with Marbella-based business and lifestyle magazine Exclusive Life, Nicola had spoken about their plans to open a wellness centre in nearby La Cala de Mijas, at another property she and her husband lived at years ago.
She added in the interview, titled ‘At Home With Nicola Morrissey’: “We have been busy overseeing the luxury building project, gathering an expert team to deliver the latest therapies and treatments.
“We will have a full-time nutritionist, in-house yoga and meditation specialist, colonic hydrotherapy, cryotherapy and lots more.”
In April, Johnny Morrissey was one of seven people, including Christopher Kinahan Sr and his son Daniel, who were hit with sanctions by the US department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The US authorities said: “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.”
La Guardia Civil, who led the operation against Morrissey through its elite UCO unit with support from An Garda Síochána, Britain’s National Crime Agency and the powerful US DEA law enforcement agency, say they believe he allegedly helped crime gangs launder more than €200m in the 18 months their investigation lasted.