A new campaign was launched on Wednesday to trace and bring to justice 12 of the United Kingdom’s most wanted fugitives believed to be hiding in Spain.
The offenders are wanted for crimes including murder, large-scale drugs trafficking and supplying firearms and ammunition. All the men featured on the campaign are believed to have links to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands.
The UK National Crime Agency (NCA)’s Most Wanted campaign is run in conjunction with the independent charity CrimeStoppers, Spanish law enforcement and UK policing. It comes on the back of the successful Operation Captura campaign in Spain, which resulted in the arrest of 86 offenders.
Spain is home to a large British community of at least 350,000 registered residents, and officials speaking at the campaign launch in Madrid sought to enlist citizen cooperation.
“Spain is not a safe haven,” said Steve Rodhouse, the NCA’s director general of operations. “Many of these fugitives will be trying to blend in to the large British communities who have made their homes in Spain, and if you are resident, you may know one of them from your town or village.”
Spanish police sources said that they already have their sights on some of these individuals. In 2021, 25 British citizens were detained by Spanish law enforcement agencies and handed over to UK authorities.
Many of these fugitives will be trying to blend in to the large British communities who have made their homes in Spain, and if you are resident, you may know one of them from your town or villageSteve Rodhouse, NCA director general of operations
At the campaign launch, officials underscored the importance of this kind of police cooperation between Spain and the UK. “Now more than ever it is necessary for everyone to join forces to give a coordinated and effective response to new security challenges,” said the British Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, Sarah Cowley.
“The campaign allows us to reinforce and strengthen police collaboration between Spain and the United Kingdom with the aim of creating a hostile environment which impedes criminal organizations from setting up in Spain and criminals from settling in our cities,” added Rafael Pérez Ruiz, the secretary of state for security at the Spanish Interior Ministry.
Pérez Ruiz said that the ministry is planning to expand an operation against drug trafficking in Campo de Gibraltar to include Costa del Sol, where many of these fugitives are believed to be hiding. The Campo de Gibraltar Plan was launched in March 2018 on a €10 million budget.
Among the most wanted is Nana Oppong, wanted by Essex Police for the drive-by murder of Robert Powell, who was shot eight times with a 9mm pistol on June 13, 2020. It is alleged that the victim and Powell were from rival criminal factions.
Also wanted is Jack Mayle, 30, on suspicion of supplying Class A drug MDMA and other drugs. Mayle is suspected of running a drug line in south London and allegedly worked with a dark web drugs supplier.
Callum Halpin, 27, is wanted by Greater Manchester Police for the murder of drug dealer Luke Graham and the attempted murder of Anton Verigotta. Graham was ambushed and shot dead in a drugs turf war in broad daylight on a street in Ashton-under-Lyne as children played nearby in June 2018.
Two men from Cardiff, Asim Naveed and Calvin Parris, are wanted by South Wales Police for Class A drugs offenses allegedly organized by using the encrypted communications platform EncroChat, which ceased operating in June 2020 following a police operation.
Scotsman James ‘Jamie’ Stevenson, 56, is wanted by the National Crime Agency and Police Scotland over the seizure of approximately one ton of cocaine and 28 million tablets of Etizolam, known as “street Valium.” He is also wanted in connection with two suspected arson attacks in the Lanarkshire and Forth Valley areas in May 2020.
“We know it can be difficult for people to speak up about crime, which is why our charity is here to give you an option,” said Lord Ashcroft, founder of the charity CrimeStoppers UK. “We guarantee you’ll stay completely anonymous, just like the millions of people who have trusted our charity with their crime information since we were formed back in the 1980s.”
Anyone with information about one of the most wanted is urged to call the free Spanish number 900 926 111, which will be answered by CrimeStoppers in the UK (using translation if required). Callers in the UK should call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Alternatively, members of the public can fill out an anonymous online form at the UK charity’s website crimestoppers-uk.org/fugitives.