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Hutchdown Gerry Hutch arrested within walking distance of 'The Penguin's' hideaway

Notorious partners in crime lived just 2km from each other in resort

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Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.

Gerry Hutch's arrest in Fuengirola on Thursday afternoon occurred within walking distance of a 'safe house' owned by fellow mobster George 'The Penguin' Mitchell.

The revelation - tying 'The Monk', in the final hours of his freedom, to old pal Mitchell - comes as the Dubliner was taken, in an armed convoy, from Guardia Civil Command in Malaga to Madrid at 4am yesterday.

Locals said that Hutch's arrest had taken place outside a bar on Boulevard Lamo de Espinosa in central Fuengirola.

Both Hutch and George Mitchell were confirmed by the Sunday World as patrons of bars on this street in the recent past.

One local immediately recognised Hutch as a regular when shown his picture, although she could not recall seeing him on Thursday.

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The street on which Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was arrested

The street on which Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was arrested

The street on which Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was arrested

Mitchell, the Sunday World was told, frequented another bar on the same street.

A separate local spoken to by this newspaper described him as "a nice man who drank bottled water."

The Sunday World was further told the pair are 'friends' and have been seen in each other's comany in Fuengirola.

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George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell

George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell

George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell

However no timeline was given for when the sightings of them together occurred.

Hutch is now expected to appear before Spain's Central Audiencia Nacional court, based in Madrid, in coming weeks to contest the European Arrest Warrant.

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The warrant charges Hutch with the Regency Hotel murder of Kinahan Cartel mobster David Byrne.

Hutch's arrest came after a two-week- surveillance operation carried out by an elite fugitive-hunting division of the Unidad Central Operativa (UCO) police unit.

The operation was sparked by a sighting of Hutch in the seaside resort of Fuengirola at the end of last month.

The credibility to the sighting was enhanced by its proximity to an address linked to Hutch's old pal, George 'The Penguin' Mitchell.

Mitchell is understood to own a luxury apartment in the area.

The building is located a few kilometres from the property where Hutch was lifted on Thursday.

The Central Operation Unit (OCU) are understood to have carried out covert surveillance on the property for several days before spotting their man at approximately 4pm.

The OCU operation was described as 'well resourced', with several teams covering shifts on a 24-hour roster.

According to sources, Hutch was spotted and then followed to a nearby restaurant as checks were carried out to confirm his identity.

Armed officers approached and, after identifying themselves, informed him he was being detained on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

It's understood that, although Hutch offered no resistance, he was handcuffed.

Hutch was then helped into the back of an OCU vehicle and taken the Guardia Civil Command in Malaga, where he remained until the early hours of yesterday morning when he was moved in an armed convoy to Madrid.

Hutch's arrest at the hands of the Guardia Civil comes less than a year after Spanish police arrested Dublin criminal John Gilligan on drugs and weapon offences.

A Colt Python was also discovered during Gilligan's arrest in the Costa Blanca town of Torrevieja on October 20th last.

It was later examined and the possibility ruled out that it was the gun used in the murder of Veronica Guerin.

Sources in Dublin this week said Hutch's arrest, recent significant drug seizures, and to a lesser extent the Gilligan capture, all served to underline the increasing strength of the Garda relationship with their counterparts in Spain.

A Garda liaison officer between the two forces has been in place for a number of years and, the success of the relationship was highlighted just two years ago, when the officer was one of two gardaí to be awarded the "Merit Order Cross of the Guardia Civil."

The liaison officer cannot be identified for security reasons.

The role is viewed as crucial as the officer coordinates the collaboration between the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau and the various arms of the Spanish police force.

Hutch's relationship with Mitchelll is understood to have remained friendly despite the drug dealer declining to align himself with the Hutch family in their feud with the Kinahan cartel.

Mitchell (69) is one of Ireland's most notorious drug traffickers. The Ballyfermot native is suspected of becoming a millionaire from his involvement in drugs trafficking from the early 1990s to the present day.

He has connections with the Kinahan cartel but also links to Gerry "the Monk" Hutch.

After the Regency Hotel bloodbath, it is understood that he made it clear to both factions that he did not want to be dragged into the bloody feud which claimed 18 lives.

"Mitchell is too smart for that - he knows murder is bad for business," a senior source said at the time.

'The Penguin' has been based between Holland, Germany and Spain for a number of years, where he is suspected of organising huge shipments of drugs from heroin to cannabis.

He left Germany following a Sunday World exposé of his involvement in a 'dark web' cyber bunker in the Mosel region and the subsequent police probe that followed.

Details regarding Mitchell's lifestyle and activities, of heart problems and alcohol dependency, emerged this week at the trial in Germany of a number of his associates who helped him set up the cyber bunker which was housed in a former Nato underground complex.

Mitchell, whose involvement in the bunker project, was carefully documented by investigators, has yet to be charged in connection with operation.

His ability to elude arrest and prosecution was matched by that of Gerry Hutch, until his arrest last Thursday.

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