The final countdown begins in Spain for UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), as only ten most wanted individuals remain on their Operation Captura list following the arrest of the 53rd target.
Operation Captura is the successful multi-agency campaign which identifies individuals on the run in Spain who are wanted by UK law enforcement agencies for serious crimes committed in the UK.
With 53 of the 65 individuals included in the campaigns since their launch in October 2006 now arrested, and two having had to be removed from the list, the hunt is on for the final ten remaining fugitives who include some of the UK’s most dangerous individuals. Many of those arrested are now serving lengthy prison sentences for their crimes, which range from drug trafficking to sex crimes to murder.
The latest arrest was that of Darren Kevin O’Flaherty, who was detained in North Wales on 6 August whilst celebrating his birthday in a Chinese restaurant. The 39-year-old was wanted for kidnap and robbery offences for his involvement in an HGV driver being held at knifepoint while his lorry was driven from North Yorkshire to Liverpool. Once the £400,000 worth of cargo was unloaded and the driver released after several hours, the vehicle was set alight. O’Flaherty was also wanted over the 2010 murder of Dublin holidaymaker John O’Neill in Spain.
Other recent high profile arrests include that of Mark Lilley, one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives, found hiding in a panic room when officers raided a luxury villa in Malaga on 6 July.
On 8 July drug dealer Eriberto Jimenez Melo was returned to the UK to serve a long prison sentence, having been arrested in Italy following an operation carried out by officers of the Udine and Parma Carabinieri.
The 50th Operation Captura arrest took place in May when Andrew Moran was arrested in Spain for an aggravated robbery that took place eight years ago.
Awareness of the last ten fugitives is being highlighted across Spain in areas with a large British expatriate community such as Malaga and Alicante, which are potential hideouts for fugitives on the run from British law enforcement.
Roger Critchell, Director of Operations at Crimestoppers, said:
With the arrest of O’Flaherty we are down to the final ten remaining fugitives left on the run from our Operation Captura campaign. The success of these appeals means that they won’t be out there for long.
The recent arrests we have seen have proven again that the cooperation between UK and Spanish law enforcement, SOCA and the public is essential in this fight against crime. It is thanks to them that we only have ten criminals left on this list.
If you call us, no-one will ever know you who you are and you will not go to court. Contact us on 0800 555 111 or through our website.
Dave Allen, Head of the Fugitives Unit at SOCA, said:
The exceptional level of collaboration between Spanish and UK law enforcement authorities has resulted in 17 fugitives being arrested since April, including a number of Operation Captura targets, which is a remarkable result. The final ten on our list, who may well still be hiding out in Spain, should also expect to be brought before the UK courts.
SOCA will soon become part of the new National Crime Agency (NCA), and will continue to work with the Spanish authorities to capture criminals fleeing justice.
Crimestoppers is asking the public to join the fight against crime and to view the appeals on the most wanted section of Crimestoppers’ website, then give information about anything they know about the individuals featured.
Calls to the Spanish telephone number 900 555 111 are answered in the UK by Crimestoppers’ call agents and a translation service is available upon request.
People can also pass on information anonymously via the online Giving Information form on Crimestoppers’ website. Those in the UK should call 0800 555 111 or visit the website.