Saturday, 24 December 2011

Four senior British police officers are under investigation over allegations of misconduct for partaking in a gangland killing case, news reports said.

Staffordshire Police launched an inquiry into the murder of amateur footballer Kevin Nunes, 20, who was gunned down in a country lane in 2002, British media reported. 

Nunes, a drug dealer who had been on the books of Tottenham Hotspur, was shot dead in an execution style killing after a gang dispute. 

His killers, Levi Walker, Antonio Christie, Adam Joof, Michael Osbourne and Owen Crooks were all jailed for life after being found guilty of murder by a jury at Leicester Crown Court. 

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will look into the handling of the investigation into case of the four officers, including the lead on police ethics. Five men were jailed in connection with the killing in 2008. 

The IPCC confirmed that formal notice of investigation had been served on “a number of former and serving Staffordshire Police officers”. 

Meanwhile, Northamptonshire Police Authority confirmed that its force's chief constable Adrian Lee and deputy chief constable Suzette Davenport were being investigated. 

Lee is also the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers' ethics portfolio.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

teenager who murdered a 16-year-old schoolboy outside a pub in Stretford has denied his motive was revenge for another gangland killing.


A teenager who murdered a 16-year-old schoolboy outside a pub in Stretford has denied his motive was revenge for another gangland killing. Moses Mathias told Manchester Crown Court he intended to commit a robbery but instead fired at a vehicle carrying Giuseppe Gregory out of "fear for my life". He said he did not learn of the death in May 2009 until the next day. Àt the age of 15 he later went on the run. Mathias, now 18, remained at large until he was arrested in Amsterdam earlier this year on a European Arrest Warrant after a joint investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and GMP. He was flown back to the UK in June and four months later admitted the murder of the youngster who was gunned down in the early hours of May 11 in a car outside the Robin Hood pub in Stretford. In March 2010, Mathias's associates Njabulo Ndlovu and Hiruy Zerihun, then aged 19 and 18, were jailed for life and ordered to serve minimum terms of 21 years and 23 years respectively after they were convicted of Giuseppe's murder. Their trial heard the pair carried out the attack in revenge for the murder of Zerihun's boyhood friend Louis Brathwaite, also 16, who was shot dead in a betting shop in Withington, south Manchester, in January 2008. They were affiliated to Fallowfield Man Dem, a splinter group of the notorious Gooch Gang, who targeted Giuseppe and his friends because of their association to the rival gang the Longsight Crew. Mathias, of no fixed address, also admitted possessing - with Zerihun and Ndlovu - an imitation firearm, a self-loading pistol, a .32 pistol and six .32 bullet cartridges. But now he has argued the basis of his plea and claimed he did not know Louis Brathwaite, saying in evidence that the plan was to enter the pub and "rob the tills".

Monday, 19 December 2011

Brits who invested their savings in their adopted countries may not be able to withdraw cash and could even lose their homes if banks call in loans

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)

EMERGENCY evacuation plans for Brits living in Spain and Portugal are being drawn up amid fears of the euro collapsing.

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The drastic proposals emerged as a former Security Minister warned expats could be left stranded and destitute by the break-up of the single currency.

Brits who invested their savings in their adopted countries may not be able to withdraw cash and could even lose their homes if banks call in loans, worried ministers are warning.

The Foreign Office is preparing to bring them back from Spain and Portugal if the two countries are forced out of the euro, triggering a banking collapse.

A million Brits live in Spain and 50,000 in neighbouring Portugal – plus a million in the other eurozone countries.

And Baroness Neville-Jones, who only stepped down as a minister in May, called the situation “very, very worrying”.

The Tory peer – who once chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee for MI5, MI6 and other security agencies – said: “Spain is clearly a vulnerable area. If that happens, one of the things that will happen in a crash of that kind, is that the banks would close their doors. You would find that there are people there, including our own citizens, a lot of them, who couldn’t get money out to live on. So you would have a destitution problem.”

Brits living in Europe Map

British planes, ships and coaches could be sent to pluck our citizens from debt-ridden Spain and Portugal

Commenting on the evacuation plans, she added: “I think they are right to be doing that. I think this is a real contingency that they need to plan against – very, very worrying.”

Officials are braced for a nightmare scenario where thousands end up penniless and sleeping at airports with no means of getting home. Planes, ships and coaches could be sent, with some expats being brought out through Gibraltar.

The Foreign Office could offer small loans while piling pressure on the banks to give Brits access to their funds.

Spanish and Portuguese banks guarantee the first 100,000 euros deposited by savers but many put limits on withdrawals in a crisis.

A powerful credit rating agency downgraded 10 Spanish banks last week, while another warned over the weekend the debt crisis was threatening to spiral out of control.

Spanish king forced son-in-law to quit job in 2006



King Juan Carlos told his son-in-law in 2006 to cut ties with a company now mired in corruption allegations, an official at Spain's royal palace said Sunday. Authorities are probing the activities of a non-profit company run by Inaki Urdangarin between 2004 and 2006. "(The king) ordered him to stand down from his activities and he sold his shares," said the official, who works at the royal palace's press office, confirming reports in the Spanish press. "He was told he shouldn't work for himself and it would be better if he worked overseas." Urdangarin, 43, also known as the Duke of Palma de Mallorca, now works for Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica in Washington, where he lives with with his wife, Infanta Cristina. The scandal, the first to hit Spain's royal family in years, centres on Urdangarin's time at the helm of the Instituto Noos, now suspected of siphoning off money from contracts paid by the regional government of the Balearic Islands, where the institute is based. The royal palace did not uncover any lies or fraud in 2006, the source said. However, a royal legal advisor found signs the Noos institute was possibly involved in commercial activities not consistent its non-profit mission. On December 12, the royal palace froze Urdangarin out of official activities over the scandal. The royal family traditionally maintains a discreet profile in Spain, where Juan Carlos is widely respected, credited with guiding the country to democracy after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. The scandal has nevertheless caused anger at a time when ordinary Spaniards are being squeezed by spending cuts and a lack of jobs, with an unemployment rate of 21.5 percent. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Spain's longest-serving inmate received a government pardon yesterday that saw him and his family convinced that he would walk free immediately

After 35 years in jail and eight successful breakout attempts, Spain's longest-serving inmate received a government pardon yesterday that saw him and his family convinced that he would walk free immediately – only for him to remain behind bars.

Since 1976, Spanish courts have found Miguel Angel Montes Neiro guilty of more than 30 robberies and armed burglaries, many committed while on the run. But even as a spokesman for the Spanish government, Jose Blanco, confirmed yesterday that Montes Neiro, 61, had received a pardon for two of his multiple crimes, another outstanding sentence – for robbery and illicit possession of firearms – will see him remain in jail.

Montes Neiro, from the province of Granada in southern Andalusia, was predictably delighted when news of the pardon broke yesterday lunchtime, telling his family by phone: "Don't come to the prison gates when I get out, I want to walk the first two or three kilometres so I can feel the fresh air like a free man."

However, it emerged that his pardon was only partial and that a court review of a 13-year sentence was still pending.

Montes Neiro spent his first night in the cells in 1966, aged 16, when he was arrested for stealing a packet of cigarettes. His first formal sentence came a decade later for desertion – but not before he had spent 10 days in army prison for stealing a sub-machine gun.

During his numerous breakouts, the most recent in 2009 when he spent two hours on self-imposed parole to attend the wake for his mother, Montes Neiro found the time to marry twice and have two children – and to commit a string of hold-ups and kidnaps.

Montes Neiro's record is as varied as it is long. He has been convicted of beating up hostages on three occasions, and he once formed part of a gang that broke into a Granada home and threatened to cut off a man's thumb unless his wife revealed the location of his safe.

His escapes include one from a maximum security prison in the Spanish colony of Ceuta in 1979, but perhaps his most dramatic breakout came in 1981: after hanging himself in a staged suicide bid, breaking two ribs, he escaped from prison hospital in a taxi.

On the run for a total of three years, his repeated recapture was facilitated by his tendency to remain in or near his home town. His one spell abroad, in Morocco, ended when he returned to Granada because he missed his family.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Spanish, Italian police smash drug smuggling ring


Spanish and Italian police made five arrests while busting a drug-trafficking ring that for years smuggled cocaine from South America to Europe, investigators said on Friday. The group arranged for narcotics to be put on merchant ships headed to Europe. Just before the vessels arrived at their destination, the smugglers would dump cocaine packages overboard, Spanish police said in a statement. Members of the gang waiting in inflatable boats would then pick up the cocaine and take it to shore, from where it was distributed to customers in Spain and Italy, officials said.Two members of the group were detained in the Italian port city of Genoa in March in a joint operation by Spanish and Italian police. Police detained another three members of the group, including its leader, three months later in the northwestern Spanish coastal region of Galicia. "During the search of the home of the ringleader, police found a vault camouflaged behind the wall of the cellar, which housed security cameras that monitored the rest of the house as well as two large safes, cash, valuable watches, computer equipment and documents," police said in the statement. Police also seized 55 kilos (120 pounds) of cocaine, three cash-counting machines and five cars. Spain is the main gateway to Europe for cocaine from Latin America and for cannabis from north Africa

father of three was killed in bed near his sleeping wife and children when his house was sprayed with bullets in a drive-by shooting


Oakland police say a father of three was killed in bed near his sleeping wife and children when his house was sprayed with bullets in a drive-by shooting. Officer Kevin McDonald said one of many bullets passed through a wall and hit 46-year-old mechanic Thourn Nhep, who was pronounced dead at the scene when police arrived Saturday. Neighbors say a mid-size sedan sped away after the shooting. McDonald tells the Oakland Tribune ( the shooting was not random, but did not give further details of who was targeted and why. No one had been arrested. Nhep's 18-year-old daughter Sok told the Tribune it was the third time the house had been shot at recently. Sok said her father was a "good guy" who had nothing to do with violence.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

co-defendant in the Hells Angels trial last week was found not guilty on several charges.


co-defendant in the Hells Angels trial last week was found not guilty on several charges. Timothy David Hill, 45, of Rock Hill was acquitted on charges of attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy by a York County jury Friday. Hill was represented by public defenders Harry Dest and B.J. Barrowclough. The main defendant, 58-year-old William "Spook" Sosebee of Rock Hill, was convicted of attempted armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a knife during a violent crime and first-degree assault and battery, according to a news release from the 16th Circuit Solicitor's Office. Judge John C. Hayes sentenced Sosebee to 10 years in prison with no parole. Sosebee was accused of stabbing Jim Moye of North Carolina at Wall Bangers Social Club on East Main Street. Moye, 58, is a member of Iron Order, another motorcycle club, and had stopped at Wall Bangers, according to the solicitor's office news release. Evidence at the trial showed that Moye, who had never been to the bar before, did not know that the Hells Angels considered Wall Bangers "their bar," according to the release. After Moye arrived, Sosebee approached him and beat him in the head with the handle of a Bowie knife, according to the solicitor's office. Sosebee put the knife to Moye's throat and demanded he hand over his Iron Order motorcycle vest. Moye refused and repeatedly asked to be allowed to leave. Sosebee then stabbed him in the abdomen. Moye survived after undergoing surgery at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Officers were called to the hospital after the stabbing, but Moye would only say "it was a motorcycle thing," according to reports. A witness identified Sosebee to officers. At the time of the stabbing, Hill also had been arrested and charged and was called a member of the Red Devil, a support group of the Hells Angels, in a Rock Hill Police report. However, Hill was found not guilty last week by a York County jury and was released.

The Rise of the Dark Souls, the Black Mask, the Thunder Bikers and the Iron Beast are a sure sign the feared gang is trying to reclaim lucrative territory

The Hells Angels, decimated by a series of raids, are reorganizing under the guise of four so-called puppet clubs, QMI Agency has learned. The emergence of the Dark Souls, the Black Mask, the Thunder Bikers and the Iron Beast are a sure sign the feared gang is trying to reclaim lucrative territory, say experts. Three of the four new Hells puppet clubs in Quebec have quietly announced their presence on the Internet. The Black Mask Facebook page says it has a base in Scott, east of Quebec City. Newly established in four regions of the province, the puppet clubs sport colours inspired by the Hells as well as jackets adorned with distinctive logos and marked "MC" for Motorcycle Club. Undercover Montreal police officers gathered information on the clubs by infiltrating a biker meeting at a Montreal bar in November, sources tell QMI Agency. Sixty aspiring bikers were met by three members of the Nomads, the select Hells chapter once run by Maurice (Mom) Boucher and now based in Ontario. Police gathered evidence, but didn't make any arrests. Montreal police and Quebec provincial police declined to comment for this story. But a provincial police investigator last month confirmed the Hells' push-back into Quebec. "The Ontario Nomads have some influence in Quebec that they had not had before 2009," said Insp. Michel Pelletier. He added that Quebec's Hells leadership needed reinforcements to run their rackets because nearly all of its members were nabbed in Project SharQc, a sweeping 2009 biker roundup. Hells clubs virtually disappeared following Operation Springtime 2001, the first of a set of massive raids that crippled Quebec biker gangs and ended a bloody 10-year war that claimed 150 lives, including those of bystanders. A 2003 report by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada said biker proxy clubs allow higher-ups to stay out of the spotlight. "The outlaw motorcycle gangs will use clubs ... for criminal acts in order to avoid prosecution," said the CISC report. "However, it seems that the clubs are becoming increasingly rare because it is difficult to control and because of the success of (raids)."

Sunday, 4 December 2011

US agents laundered drug money


Anti-narcotics agents working for the US government have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds to see how the system works and use the information against Mexican drug cartels, The New York Times reported Sunday. Citing unnamed current and former federal law enforcement officials, the newspaper said the agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders. Some 45,000 people have been killed in Mexico since 2006, when its government launched a major military crackdown against the powerful drug cartels that have terrorized border communities as they battled over lucrative smuggling routes. According to these officials, the operations were aimed at identifying how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are, the report said. The agents had deposited the proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents, the paper noted. While the DEA conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years, The Times said. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests, the report said. According to The Times, agency officials declined to publicly discuss details of their work, citing concerns about compromising their investigations. But Michael Vigil, a former senior official who is currently working for a private contracting company called Mission Essential Personnel, is quoted by the paper as saying: "We tried to make sure there was always close supervision of these operations so that we were accomplishing our objectives, and agents weren?t laundering money for the sake of laundering money."

DRUGS baron Curtis “Cocky” Warren is serving 13 years behind bars – but his tentacles still stretch around the globe.

Curtis Warren

Curtis Warren


He is suspected of operating a £300million empire built on smuggling cocaine, heroin and cannabis in deals with criminal cartels in Latin America, the Middle East and Spain. And all from his jail cell.

But 48-year-old Warren faces the biggest challenge yet to his evil enterprise as police launch a double assault in the courts on his fortune.

Authorities in Jersey are set to haul him before a judge next month to face a £200million Confiscation Order after he was convicted of drug smuggling on the Channel Island in 2009.

And in a second attack the Serious Organised Crime Agency, in a rare move, is asking judges to impose a Serious Crime Prevention Order in the High Court in London to stop him in his tracks when he is released in 2015. Yesterday Warren’s legal team won an adjournment in the High Court to delay a hearing scheduled for this week so they can prepare the crime lord’s defence.

With typical arrogance he told his lawyers to fight the bid on the grounds it breaches his “human rights”.

The SCP order, signed by Alun Milford, the Chief Crown Prosecutor and director of the Serious Organised Crime Division, seeks to restrict Warren’s use of communication devices and public phones.

It demands that he never has more than £1,000 in cash, to “make it harder for him to buy drugs or reward criminal associates”. And a financial reporting requirement will “deter him from acquisitive crime and give law enforcement authorities the opportunity to investigate any wealth he comes into”.

A source said: “Curtis is almost untouchable. A mobile is vital to him. It’s all he needs to operate. There are thousands of mobiles smuggled into the prison system and he has the means to get one.”

Curtis Warren, from Liverpool, leaves The Royal Court in St Hellier

Curtis Warren, from Liverpool, leaves The Royal Court in St Hellier

Curtis Warren's Crime Board

Warren is the only convicted criminal ever to appear on The Sunday Times rich list, which in 2005 described him as a “property developer” with an estimated fortune of £76million. But according to underworld sources his real wealth is four times that.

He appointed himself chairman and chief operating officer of a global operation to flood Britain with cocaine and heroin.

His criminal associates say Warren’s business philosophy was simple and effective – drugs are a product to buy and sell like oil and gold. He is a meticulous planner whose organisation resembles the layers of executives and managers you find in a City institution, said a police source who has followed Warren’s career.

Before the euro was introduced, he was said to be putting £1million a week in money-laundering scams after trusted couriers changed cash into German marks and Dutch guilders and moved it abroad.

Paul Grimes, a gangster turned supergrass after his son died from a heroin overdose, said: “Warren wanted to be the cock everyone looks up to. He loves the status.”

Even behind bars it is feared Warren still handles deals and keeps phone numbers in his head as he links supplies to smugglers.

Detectives believe he has villas in Spain, Turkey and Gambia, owned through an intricate web of associates who also operate a Spanish casino, Turkish petrol stations and 250 rental properties in the North West of England.

Warren says the claims are “ridiculous”, alleging that he only has a flat in Liverpool’s Albert Dock and a house on the Wirral.

Softly-spoken Warren started his criminal career at the bottom when he was just nine and living at home with his dad, sailor Curtis Aloysius, and mum Sylvia, a shipyard boiler attendant. He was recruited by a gang to climb through small windows and burgle homes. By 11 he was carrying out muggings and armed robberies in the tough estates of Toxteth, Liverpool.

At 18, he was sent to borstal for assaulting police. In an adult jail eh honed his talent for crime.

Warren started selling drugs on the street and rubbing shoulders with Liverpool’s biggest villains, who underwrote huge cocaine consignments with Columbia’s Cali mobsters worth millions.


He does not drink or take drugs, allowing his photographic memory to be razor-sharp at all times – especially in jail. On the outside, he has always shunned flash cars and big houses and wears tracksuits instead of Armani suits so as not to attract attention.

“Cocky takes no unnecessary risks,” said an ex-associate.

Paul Grimes added: “Unlike me and my crew, he wasn’t out till all hours in the pubs and clubs. He wasn’t flash. If he was grafting it was all VW Golfs and Passats or a low-key Rover.” Streetwise Warren gave contacts nicknames, including The Vampire, The Egg On Legs and Cracker to throw eavesdropping police off the scent.

His methods developed a business worth hundreds of millions as the drug trade exploded in the 1980s. He became a trusted client of Colombian cocaine cartels, Turkish heroin producers and Spanish cannabis suppliers.

It enabled him to get huge ­quantities of drugs on credit.

As he left court on a technicality during a 1993 trial for smuggling cocaine worth £250million, he is said to have told Customs officers he was “off to spend my £87million from the first shipment and you can’t f****** touch me”. Grimes, who will be under witness protection for the rest of his life, said: “Warren is a parasite.”

As Merseyside turf wars worsened in the mid-1990s, Warren moved to Sassenheim in Holland.

When Dutch police intercepted 400kg of cocaine, the game was up – for the time being.

At other addresses controlled by Warren, officers discovered a £150million haul containing 1,500kg of cannabis, 60kg of heroin, 50kg of ecstasy, 960 CS gas canisters, three guns, ammunition and £400,000 in Dutch guilders. The bust put Warren behind bars for 12 years in 1997.

In 2005, Dutch police charged him with running a drug smuggling cartel from his cell but the case was dropped because of insufficient evidence.

On his release, Warren returned to his manor in Merseyside to take up his mantle as the King of Coke.

But within weeks he was busted plotting what he described as “just a little starter” to get himself re-established as the No1 drugs baron in Europe.


He was jailed again in 2009 for 13 years for trying to smuggle £1million of cannabis into Jersey – for which he is still behind bars at Full Sutton Prison near York.

Following his sentence at Jersey’s Royal Court, SOCA said Warren was on its Lifetime Offender Management List.

However, Warren could now have his vast fortune seized. After he was jailed, Jersey authorities said they were determined to force Warren to hand over his assets and are seeking a Confiscation Order for more than £200million.

Warren is determined to take his fight against the Confiscation Order – which could see police seize his properties purchased with proceeds of crime – all the way to the European courts.

His solicitor said his client will “fight it all the way”.

Last week, in a similar case that will strike fear into the London underworld, kingpin Terry Adams, 57, was jailed for eight weeks, for breaching a Financial Reporting Order, after authorities demanded details on his spending.

Officers are determined that this week’s application in the High Court will finally nail Warren’s sinister organisation.

It is understood that this is the first SCPO to be applied for through the High Court.

Breaching any SCPO can lead to five years in jail and an unlimited fine. But in true Cocky fashion, Warren laughs off the order as “a mere irritant” in his bid to remain the drug trade’s Numero Uno.

WARREN once killed a fellow prisoner in a fight.

Cemal Guclu, a Turk serving 20 years for murder, attacked him at Hoorn Prison, Holland, in 1999.

Warren punched Guclu to the ground and kicked him in the head four times. Incredibly, Guclu got up but Warren struck him again. He hit his head on the ground and later died.

Warren was convicted of manslaughter and had four years added to his sentence.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Spain Makes Banks Pay Double To Deposit Guarantee Fund


The Spanish government Friday said it has approved a decree that will make banks more than double their contribution to the Spanish deposit guarantee fund, a measure aimed at getting lenders to shoulder a bigger part of the cost of financial sector restructuring. Under the new legislation, banks will have to pay an annual fee of 0.2% of the deposits they hold into the deposit guarantee fund, up from between 0.06% and 0.1% now. Finance Minister Elena Salgado said she expects banks to contribute EUR1.5 billion to EUR1.6 billion to the fund per year after the change. "The restructuring of the financial system will have zero cost for the tax contributor, and today's law reinforces that idea," Salgado said at a press conference following the outgoing Socialist government's weekly cabinet meeting. The move follows a recent government initiative to merge the deposit guarantee fund of the commercial banks with that of the savings banks, and use its funds to cover losses resulting from sector cleanup, part of a wider plan to slash a gaping government budget deficit. The deposit guarantee fund currently holds a total of EUR6.59 billion. The move didn't go down well with bankers. The AEB, a banking association which represents Spain's commercial banks and not the savings banks, said it is "surprising and unfair" that the banks are being forced to pay more to the fund. Until now, none of the listed banks has taken state aid, while several savings banks have been bailed out. Economists and analysts are concerned that the mounting cost of the cleanup of Spain's ailing banks will undermine Spain's efforts to bring down the deficit. Spain's state-backed Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring injected EUR7.55 billion in its banks to help them meet new minimum capital requirements the government set earlier this year. This comes on top of around EUR10 billion the FROB earlier provided to banks. But the total amount falls far short of the capital needs estimated by many independent analysts. Just last month, the Bank of Spain seized Banco de Valencia SA (BVA.MC), a lender with EUR24 billion in assets that like many Spanish lenders had made big and ultimately fatal bets on lending to real-estate developers. That took the tally of nationalized banks to seven since 2008, after a massive real-estate bubble burst. Only two of these have so far been auctioned off. The Bank of Spain next week is expected to finalize the auction of Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM.MC), by handing it over to midsized lender Banco de Sabadell SA (SAB.MC). Central bank Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez recently called CAM "the worst of the worst" of the country's ailing banks, and is offering the buyer sweeping guarantees against future loan losses resulting from its exposure to the real-estate sector. The prime minister elect, Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party, has said cleaning up the banking sector is one of his main priorities when he assumes power later this month, though he has yet to spell out how he plans to conduct this cleanup

Hundred million euro plan to expand Marbella port gets go ahead


109 million euro plan to expand Marbella’s fishing port has finally been given the green light. The long planned transformation of La Bajadilla into one of the most luxurious marinas on the Mediterranean can now take shape after the Junta de Andalucia, Marbella town hall and The Nasir Bin Abdullah & Sons Consortium signed a contract allowing construction to begin. The move comes just weeks after the Andalucian High Court overruled objections to the scheme – submitted by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Tani, a member of the Quatari Royal family and owner of Malaga CF – that it would cause irreversible damage to Marbella. Work will now being within six months and will see the port undergo intense renovation and rescaling to make it ready to receive cruise liners and other large ships. In particular the plan, which is expected to take four years to complete and will create 750 jobs, includes a commercial area of 23,000 square meters, car parking with around 250 spaces, a five star hotel and three times the current number of moorings. It marks the first public private partnership to finance a sports marina in Spain and will give the contractor development rights for 40 years. According to the mayor of Marbella, Angeles Munoz, the scheme will also attract other projects to the Costa del Sol town and is particularly welcome in the current economic climate. “It is a great opportunity not to be missed,” she said.

Marbella has suffered from a scandal that has blighted the town for a decade.

Eighteen thousand homes were built illegally by developers during the boom years up to 2006 and thousands of people bought them in good faith. The Marbella administration has sought to resolve the issue by fining the developers and devising a plan that effectively legalises 17,500 homes. Where developers cannot be found, homeowners pay the fine.

Until now, the Andalucia regional council, within whose jurisdiction Marbella lies, had opposed the town council’s policy of legalising illegally built homes. However, the Andalucian authorities have announced they will issue a decree before the end of December agreeing to allow illegally built homes to remain standing.

However, Marbella and Andalucia agree that 500 homes remain illegal because they break multiple laws. The courts want them demolished, but Marbella’s town council is reluctant to destroy them.

“The politicians don’t want to be seen putting people out of their homes,” says Campbell Ferguson, director of Survey Spain Network of Chartered Surveyors. He advises buyers to consult a lawyer before putting in an offer on a property to find out whether it was licensed or has any fines attached to it.

Laurent Coulée, sales director at Fine & Country estate agents, says; “While nothing was built for the last five years, in the last few months we have seen some villas being constructed.”

Marbella map

Sierra Blanca Estates is building 36 apartments at its Reserva de Sierra Blanca scheme in the north of the town. Prices start at €1.15m for the three-bedroom apartments which are scheduled for completion in 2013. Half have been sold off-plan, with Russians the biggest buyers. Coulée says developers are gaining confidence from five infrastructure projects, three of which are under way.

First, the San Pedro Bypass, which is scheduled for completion in early 2012, will divert traffic from Marbella city centre, relieving congestion during busy summer months. Second, Marbella’s beach promenade, the Paseo Maritimo, is undergoing €10m of upgrades and extensions. Third, Malaga Airport, where a third terminal opened in March 2010, is scheduled to have a second runway completed in the first three months of 2012.

Other infrastructure schemes include the redevelopment of Marbella’s La Bajadilla marina and fishing port. Qatari developer Nasir Bin Abdullah & Sons wants to build a €400m marina with 858 moorings, including six for super-yachts, and a 200-metre pier for cruise liners. It will build shops, bars, restaurants and a five-star hotel to line the quayside and at least four blocks of apartments, by 2015. The town hall is an enthusiastic supporter of this project because it believes it will help Marbella compete with rival tourist destinations, the Côte d’Azur and Sardinia.

Also in the pipeline is a plan to extend Malaga’s commuter railway from Malaga Airport to Marbella, giving visitors and residents an alternative to travelling by road.

Assuming all five schemes are completed, Coulée says their effect on the town’s property market will be transformative. The transport schemes would make it easier for holiday homeowners to access Marbella, while the new marina would draw tourists, providing opportunities to rent out properties, he says.

Despite renewed demand, Marbella remains a buyers’ market. In prime areas, such as the city centre and along the Golden Mile, a stretch of dual carriageway lined by hotels, luxury homes and businesses, property prices need to be 40 per cent below 2006 valuations to make them saleable, says Barbara Wood of buying agency The Property Finders. If the market continues to follow the pattern of previous downturns, prices will flatline in 2012 and 2013 before rising in 2014, she forecasts.

Kristina Szekely, owner of Kristina Szekely Sotheby’s International Realty, says the eurozone crisis, coupled with Spain’s economic and debt problems, is having a negative effect on the Marbella market, but that some buyers are taking advantage of this to buy properties at relatively low prices.

Coulée says Swiss and Scandinavians are buying Marbella homes to take advantage of the fall in value of the euro relative to their national currencies. Other buyers come from Spain, Britain, Russia, Qatar and Dubai, and tend to be cash buyers who do not need a mortgage.

La Casa Loriana

La Casa Loriana is on the market for €50m

Buyers have some interesting properties to choose from. Fine & Country is marketing what it says is Spain’s most expensive home, the €50m La Casa Loriana which overlooks the Marbella beach and promenade. The main house, guest house, beach house and staff villa provide 4,000 sq m of accommodation, including 10 bedroom suites. Features include two swimming pools, a cinema and sweeping driveway.

Marbella’s developers and estate agents are celebrating the Popular party’s general election success in November because they believe the conservatives will support the town’s infrastructural improvements and that they may extend the previous Socialist administration’s temporary VAT cut on newly built homes. Whether that will keep housebuilders at work while the eurozone debt crisis takes its toll on Spain’s economy remains to be seen.

Hector Morales, 38, is president of the motorcycle gang "No Remorse,"

Hector Morales

Hector Morales, 38, is president of the motorcycle gang "No Remorse," according to a police report. (Orange County Jail / December 2, 2011)


Hector Morales, 38, is president of the motorcycle gang "No Remorse,"His stepson, a juvenile, was charged with burglary to an occupied dwelling.

A third suspected gang member, Jose Juan Velez, 22, was also arrested on a charge of resisting arrest. Police say he failed to comply with their commands during the investigation.

Records show Morales has now been jailed more than a dozen times in Orange County since 2005, on charges including burglary and assault on a law officer

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