Drugs lord’s luxury life on the run

The villa where John Alan Brooks (below) was living the high life in Marbella. BOTTOM: Police with the seized drugs.
The villa where John Alan Brooks (below) was living the high life in Marbella. BOTTOM: Police with the seized drugs.
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THIS is the first glimpse of the palatial million euro mansion a Blackpool drugs lord called home.

John Alan Brooks was living the high life in this luxury Marbella pad while he evaded justice for masterminding a multi-million pound drug smuggling racket.

John Alan Brooks

John Alan Brooks

It is from these sumptuous surroundings – complete with views of rolling hills and a sun-drenched pool – the 61-year-old played a crucial role as an “international fixer” for drug traffickers worldwide.

The former Blackpool car dealer – jailed for 28 years this week – has been described as the “go-to” man for criminals wanting to charter plush yachts for drug smuggling, and over the years splashed his money on a string of luxury cars ranging from Mercedes to Porsches and Ferraris.

He bought top Cartier watches and paid thousands for one of his four children to attend a posh Fylde coast private school.

But it was his decision to charter the luxury yacht Dancing with Waves for a £134m cocaine-smuggling operation between Trinidad and Liverpool which proved to be his downfall.

The boat was intercepted after getting into difficulty off the Irish coast as part of an operation led by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) – and it proved to be the seizure which ultimately brought the drugs lord down after a criminal career spanning almost 30 years.

Matt Horne, SOCA’s regional head of investigations, said: “Brooks believed he could safely conduct his criminal activity by using false identities and basing himself in Spain, but he was wrong.

“He lived a Champagne lifestyle in a luxurious villa but now he’s paid a heavy price for his involvement in the international drug trade.

“Not only has he lost his freedom, he now faces being stripped of his illicit profits.

“Our financial investigation is underway and we’ll leave no stone unturned.”

A one-time car dealer, Brooks had lived and worked on the Fylde coast – with addresses on St Annes Road, South Shore, and Garstang Road East, Poulton – before fleeing to live the high-life in Spain in the 1980s.

His first brush with the law came in 1985 as he attempted to leave Britain for Marbella in a sporty red Ferrari.

Brooks – described in The Gazette at the time as a “larger than life entrepreneur” – was stopped by customs officials in Plymouth and eventually banged up for six months for trying to use a false identity to obtain a passport.

Police with the seized drugs

Police with the seized drugs

Then in 1987 the rogue car dealer hit the headlines after being arrested in Marbella for his role in a £3m drug smuggling plot.

The then 36-year-old was one of six Brits arrested after police swooped on the popular resort of Puerto Bannus and seized 500 kilos of hashish – then the biggest bust of organised cannabis smuggling between the Costa del Sol and Britain. He was pulled in alongside his 21-year-old model fiancee despite still being married to his then-wife, who remained at their Poulton home.

The raid landed Brooks a four-and-a-half year jail term, and saw The Gazette head to Marbella to show the trappings of his luxury lifestyle in the millionaires’ playground.

We revealed pictures of the plush Puerto Banus villa where he lived with his Cumbrian fiancee and exposed the nearby Hollywood Bar where the drugs ring met.

After serving his time, Brooks was convicted again in 1996 in his absence by French authorities and sentenced to 13 years behind bars. In the same year he was arrested in Tangier, Morocco, in connection with a drugs seizure.

Moroccan authorities locked him up for 10 years in 1997, but just three years later he staged a dramatic escape from custody.

He is understood to have been taken by car from the prison to the waterfront, where he escaped across the straits of Gibraltar on a jet ski.

His next drugs connection only emerged when Dances with Waves was captured in 2008. Brooks had been under surveillance in Spain prior to his arrival in the UK in 2011 – where he forked out more than £5,000 for two Mayfair suites and splashed the cash on his son’s school fees – before he was arrested visiting his brother in Marton.

Mr Horne added: “Partnerships at a national and international level are vital if we are to tackle the drug chain from one end to the other and protect our communities.”

Dances with Waves crew members Philip Doo and David Mufford, from Devon, and Christopher Wiggins, were arrested at the time of the seizure. They pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and were each jailed for 10 years in May 2009.

CRIMINAL CAREER STRETCHING BACK ALMOST 30 YEARS

1982 - Working as a Blackpool car dealer, Brooks announced in The Gazette his motor trading contacts with international dealers can get people massive savings on popular models.

1985 – Applied for a passport in the UK using a false identity. Pleaded guilty and was jailed for six months.

1987 – Arrested by Spanish authorities in Marbella for possession of 500 kilos of cannabis with intent to supply. Later sentenced to four years six months and fined 140 million pesetas.

1987 - Gazette travelled to Marbella after Brooks arrest to uncover his flashy lifestyle – he owned a villa in Puerto Banus, near Marbella and the drugs ring would regularly meet in Puerto Banus’ Hollywood bar.

1996 – Convicted of drug offences in his absence by French authorities and sentenced to 13 years. This was in relation to a 4.2 tonne cannabis seizure in French waters in 1989.

1996 – Arrested by Moroccan authorities in Tangier in connection with a drug seizure. Jailed for 10 years in 1997 but escaped in 2000.

2007 – Arrested at Heathrow Airport for travelling on a false passport and jailed for 12 months.

2008 - Cocaine with an estimated street value of £134m seized from yacht Dancing with Waves as it travelled from Trinidad to Liverpool. The yacht had been charted by Brooks and was carrying 1.5 tonnes of the drug

2011 - Arrested while visiting his brother in Marton for masterminding the Dances with Waves smuggling operation after evading police for three years.

2012 - Sentenced to 28 years at Birmingham Crown Court.