Sunday, 29 April 2007

Sunday Tribune
Families of 'Westies' crime bosses still waiting for bodies from Spain
Mick McCaffrey Security Editor

The bodies of Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) were found under concrete in Alicante last JulyNINE months after the bodies of two notorious Westies crime gang bosses were discovered in Spain, their families have still not been told when they can be brought home for burial.

Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) were found under concrete on an industrial estate close to Alicante last July. The two men were murdered in January 2004 after being lured to a meeting with a rival gang on the premise of negotiating a drug deal.

Although the remains found have been officially confirmed as being those of Coates and Sugg, Spanish police have made no effort to contact the men's families in Dublin.

Shane Coates's brother Christian says they expected the bodies to be repatriated in the weeks after they were found."We have heard absolutely nothing, nothing at all. We are still waiting and have had no information from the Spanish authorities. We are just waiting on something to happen and you can imagine how the families are feeling. We thought it would all be finished by now, " said Christian Coates, an immunologist at Trinity College.

The HSE has agreed to give a grant of several thousand euro to the Coates family in order to offset the costs of transporting Shane Coates home.

Gardai are also puzzled by the delay and have not heard from their Spanish counterparts either. Detectives are eager to be informed of when the funerals will be so they can put together a security operation to ensure there is no trouble.

One source said: "It is unclear why they haven't been flown back here yet but the Spanish police are notoriously laid back and the bodies are probably sitting in a morgue somewhere awaiting clearance from the coroner. It must be difficult for the families. Sugg and Coates were nasty people but they still had loved ones."

Coates and Sugg were the feared leaders of the Westies, a vicious drug gang operating around west Dublin from its base in Blanchardstown.

They ruled their turf with ruthless efficiency and would stab and mutilate hopeless drug addicts for as little as a 20 debt. One man required 80 stitches after being slashed with a carpet knife while a woman had a cigarette extinguished on her breast.

The Westies, which comprised around two dozen hardcore members, made millions of euro dealing cocaine, heroin, cannabis and ecstasy. In May 2003, the gang stole a cache of weapons from a licensed firearms dealer in Balbriggan, Co Dublin and gardai traced them to a house in Virginia, Co Cavan.

Shane Coates was injured during a shootout but managed to escape. Twenty-one firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered by gardai. Coates then fled to Alicante and Sugg followed him weeks later.

Alicante is home to several Irish criminals who use it as a base for importing drugs.

Not long after arriving in the city Sugg and Coates started to cross rival gangsters and threatened them. This did not go down well with the Irish who were already established there.

One of the main Irish mobsters in Alicante was a Dubliner who moved to Spain five years ago, and who had developed contacts with the Russian mob and initially helped the Westies when they arrived. They soon went into direct competition with him and the man invited them to a meeting in the hills of Caltra. His associates were waiting and tortured the two men before shooting them in the head and dumping them in a six-foot hole at the side of a warehouse before pouring fresh concrete over it.

Undercover gardai from Blanchardstown station were deployed to Spain and received detailed confidential information specifying where Coates and Sugg were buried.

A subsequent excavation of the warehouse by Spanish police led to the bodies being recovered. Local people have arrested one man as part of their investigation.
April 29, 2007

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