Ex-Costa Blanca drug lord shot near Manchester school

‘TARGETED’: Neil Strong and his former Alicante hideout

AN ex-drug lord who orchestrated a Breaking Bad-style drugs plot from his luxury Alicante villa has been shot outside a Greater Manchester school in what detectives say was a targeted attack.

Neil Strong, 36, is said to be in a serious condition after being wounded in the ‘upper body’ on Harris Drive in Unsworth, Bury. Investigators were alerted to the attempted hit after residents reported hearing gun shots near a local primary school.

Mr Strong is believed to have driven himself to Fairfield General Hopital, Bury, in a grey van before officers arrived at the scene.

The vehicle reportedly had one punctured tyre and what appeared to be a gunshot hole in the passenger door when it arrived to the hospital car park, where it was later cordoned off by police.

Chief Inspector Phil Spurgeon, of Greater Manchester Police’s Bury Borough, said: “Our investigation remains in its early stages but I can confirm that from the information we have we are treating this as a targeted attack, and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the community.”

Mr Strong was in 2014 jailed with three others as the leader of a gang setting up a drugs factory in a detached house in nearby Radcliffe.

His associates Damian Vose, 38, from Radcliffe, was handed a 32-month jail term while Paul Cuthbert, 45, from Bury, and Daniel Pinder, 33, from Manchester, each received 30-month sentences.

The cartel was caught red-handed in the wake of a National Crime Agency (NCA) covert surveillance operation while plotting to make €1.8 million-worth of amphetamines.

They bought barrels of chemicals to produce the drugs and the property was raided when Mr Strong flew in from Spain to oversee the process.

He tried to escape after vaulting a fence, but was caught after a foot chase.

Evidence seized included presses and a vacuum-packing machine, while more presses were unearthed at stables belonging to Mr Strong in Prestwich, before raw chemicals were found at his Alicante villa.

Properties and a yacht he owned were also taken possession of during the swoops.

A serious crime prevention order was issued in his name following his release from prison in a bid to restrict his movement and place limits on the number of mobile phones and other devices he was allowed to own.

He must also advise the authorities ahead of any trip abroad and is banned from carrying more than £3,000 in cash.

An appeal to lift the order was turned down in January 2017, while in 2016 a Land Rover was blown up on the same street where he was shot last Monday.



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