Moment 'untouchable' drug lord James Mulvey is arrested after 'living like a ghost' for seven years to avoid cops over £68m smuggling racket

"Untouchable" James Mulvey evaded capture by using fake names after he fled the UK over a £68million smuggling racket.

The 42-year-old, originally from Solihull in Birmingham, lived a life of luxury with high-end sports cars and designer watches while on the run and raked in up to £75,000 a week.

He even bragged to a girlfriend: "Listen, no one can control me baby, even me dad and mum will tell ya I'm f***ing nuts".

But his lavish lifestyle came crashing down after armed cops tracked him to his hideout in Lithuania using covert surveillance.

He was arrested wearing just his pants and extradited back to the UK, where his has now been convicted of being the kingpin behind a £40 million drugs smuggling operation.

Mulvey has now been caged for 32 years at Birmingham Crown Court for two charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and two charges of conspiracy to import cannabis between May 2006 and February 2007.

The 20kg of cocaine, 364kg of cannabis and 10kg of cutting agent totalling £40million were discovered hidden in metal rollers destined for the UK from Belgium

But 14 previous identical trips had been carried out – meaning there was potential for Mulvey to have smuggled an estimated £68million.

The court heard how dad-of-five Mulvey became a "ghost" while on the run – changing his mobile on a daily basis and using trusted aides to launder his profits to off-shore accounts.

He used a variety of companies – including his haulage firm – as a front operation for his international cocaine and cannabis empire and shipped drugs to Ireland from the West Midlands.

His sophisticated racket earned him £75,000 a week – allowing him to build a £1.5 million Spanish villa near Marbella with indoor and outdoor pools and a cinema.

His ill-gotten gains also bought a fleet of luxury motors – including Land Rovers and Mercedes – and he moved between five-star hotels where he always paid in cash.

His right hand man Barry Phipps would use fake names to arrange collection of the drugs and rent storage space in the UK for consignments.

Phipps and four others were jailed for a total of 86 years in 2009 but Mulvey slipped the net and  started arranging instead for drugs to be hidden in inflatable sea scooters and replica motorbikes.

He originally fled to Spain before living in various countries including  Brazil, Holland and Portugal, before returning to the UK in 2012 due to his father's ill health.

It was here the National Crime Agency took over a surveillance operation from West Midlands Police.

Recordings included Mulvey speaking about the murder of his cousin, Irish gangster Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh, who was shot dead in the Costa Del Sol.

Mulvey said: "But this is what my life was, I've tried to get away with it, but I don't want you involved in it, do you understand how these people work; they kill the people you love."

The crime lord also spoke how he feared assassination, saying: "The life I lead, you never know what can happen. I do what I do, people try to kill me."

Sentencing, Judge Mark Wall QC said the linchpin had "no remorse" for his crimes.

Adam Warnock, NCA Birmingham Branch Commander said: "James Mulvey did his best to live as a ghost, having no conventional footprints in terms of home address, assets or bank accounts.

"Over a meticulous two year investigation in which over 20 million documents were analysed, we evidenced Mulvey's standing within international criminal circles and the damaging impact he has had on local communities.

"When Mulvey returned to the UK after five years, he thought he'd been forgotten by the NCA.

"We will never stop pursuing serious criminals like Mulvey and work with our international partners to ensure we track them down and bring them to justice.

"Our investigation into Mulvey and the proceeds of his crimes continues."


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