An on-the-run drugs mule who was part of a botched plot to smuggle cocaine worth €440m into the UK through Cork has been caught in Spain.

Gerard Hagan, 29, had been jailed for ten years for his part in the trafficking bid, which fell apart when the gang put diesel in a boat's engines instead of petrol.

The Liverpool native had been moved from an Irish jail to serve his sentence in England in 2010 before he escaped in July last year.

Hagan was in custody at HMP Kirkham, Lancashire, when he fled.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued by Lancashire Police as he was believed to be in Spain.

The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed Hagan was captured by Spanish police last Thursday after he left a gym in the Estepona area of the Costa del Sol.

Extradition proceedings are now under way.

Dave Allen, head of the NCA's Fugitives Unit, said: "This arrest is a result of close working with the Spanish National Police. It demonstrates the NCA and its partners have the capability to pursue fugitives relentlessly."

Hagan was jailed in November 2008 at Cork Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to his part in the audacious transatlantic cocaine trafficking plot.

He was paid £5,000 to take part in the smuggling, organised by former British Met Police drugs squad detective Michael Daly.

Others in the gang were Perry Wharrie, 48, from Essex, and Martin Wanden, who had no fixed address, who were each sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The botched smuggling attempt was the biggest ever drugs bust in garda history. 

It included 1.5 tonnes of cocaine in 62 bales, some of which had to be fished from the seas off Mizen Head on the west Cork coast in July 2007.

The drugs were sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran called Lucky Day.

The gang had been using a rigid inflatable to bring the bales of cocaine from the boat to shore.

Hit by strong winds and three-metre swells, the overloaded rib capsized after the engines cut out, which the men's trial heard was because "some idiot" had filled them with the wrong fuel.

Hagan had swum to shore and raised the alarm.

Other convictions were later secured in connection with the trafficking plot.