uspected gangland figures have been arrested in the Costa del Sol following a surge in tit-for-tat shootings in Salford, Greater Manchester.
Police launched dawn raids on five men and a woman in Marbella in what detectives described as a significant blow against organised crime groups in the city.
A police source said one of those arrested was a “particularly high-profile individual” linked to a number of alleged violent offences.
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The operation was part of an investigation into a gangland feud between rival gangs in Salford and Swinton, which saw Paul Massey, the city’s so-called Mr Big, murdered in July last year.
The rivalry also resulted in the shooting in the legs of seven-year-old Christian Hickey and his mother Jayne on their doorstep in October.
Several members of an organised crime gang fled to Marbella – a coastal resort with links to gangland figures in the UK – but Spanish police swooped over fears that they had been followed by others intent on continuing the dispute.
In early-morning raids on two properties, officers found a loaded handgun and ammunition as well as four knives.
Three men from Salford – aged 28, 25 and 20 – were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a firearm and membership of an organised crime group, police said.
The 20-year-old man was also wanted on a European arrest warrant by Greater Manchester police for possession of class A drugs and counterfeit currency.
A 41-year-old man from Trafford, Manchester, and a 31-year-old woman from Dublin, Ireland, were also arrested on suspicion of membership of an organised crime group. A 23-year-old man from Salford was also arrested in Marbella on a European arrest warrant on suspicion of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
Assistant chief constable Rebekah Sutcliffe from Greater Manchester police said: “These arrests are a significant result for Greater Manchester police in our fight against organised crime in Salford. This sends out a clear message to all those involved in organised crime, that we will never give up and we will find you, even if you have left the country.
“We would like to thank the Spanish national police and the National Crime Agency; once again they have shown their determination to relentlessly pursue criminals and fugitives who seek to use Spain as a base for their criminal activities.
“Our commitment to tackling serious organised crime in Salford will continue and we will use all of the powers and information available to us and our partners to target this criminality round-the-clock and put a stop to it for good.”
Dave Allen, head of the international crime bureau at the NCA said: “Law enforcement does its best work and has the most impact when it pools resources and works collaboratively. This is an excellent result, which shows the determination and professionalism of the Spanish national police, the National Crime Agency and UK police forces, in targeting organised crime groups and fugitives who seek to use Spain as a base for their criminal activities.”