Spotlight on Spain in hunt for North West criminals

Five fugitives from the North West, who are thought to be hiding in Spain, are among an "unlucky 13" of most wanted criminals.

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Crimestoppers - "Spain is not a safe haven."

The list was published as part of Operation Captura, a scheme to trace criminals who are thought to have fled to Spain.

Fifty three fugitives have been caught since Captura was launched, and many more linked to other operations.

The most important thing is the power of this campaign to harness the eyes and ears of the public, both here and in Spain.

– Hank Cole, the National Crime Agency

It is the eighth appeal of its kind since Captura was launched in 2006, and so far 53 out of 63 named suspects have been caught.

There are still a number of dangerous criminals who see Spain as a safe haven to hide from their past, but with the support of the Spanish and UK public, we can hunt them out and bring them to justice.

– Lord Ashcroft, the founder of Crimestoppers


Five from North West on "Most Wanted" list

Ian Stanton is among Crimestoppers' "most wanted". Credit: Crimestoppers

Ian Stanton, 42, from Liverpool, is suspected of being a member of a drugs gang that tried to smuggle more than 400kg of cocaine into the UK hidden in a shipment of Argentinian beef. The drugs were discovered at Tilbury docks in Essex in May.

David Mather, jailed for 18 years while on the run. Credit: Crimestoppers

David Mather, 57, from Manchester, was convicted of conspiracy to import heroin after a lorry was stopped at Humber sea terminal in May 2010 and found to have 32 packets of the drug stuffed in the bumper. He fled and was sentenced to 18 years in his absence in January.

Lee Willis, accused of dealing Class A drugs. Credit: Crimestoppers

Lee Willis, 30, from Ashton Under Lyne admitted possessing cocaine and cannabis in March this year but went on the run before he was due to be sentenced in June. He is also accused of dealing the class A drug.

David Hewson, described as a "key player" in a drug dealing gang. Credit: Crimestoppers

David Hewson, 31, from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine but then went on the run last year. He was jailed for 11 years in his absence in December for being a key player in a drug dealing gang that operated in Liverpool.

Stephen Blundell, skipped bail. Credit: Crimestoppers

Stephen Blundell, 35, from Liverpool, is a convicted heroin dealer who ran a supply chain from his home city to Devon. He was convicted of conspiracy to supply the class A drug but went on the run when he was bailed pending sentencing.

Campaign in Spain to catch North West drug smugglers

Ian Stanton, from Liverpool, was the ringleader of a cocaine smuggling ring Credit: Crimestoppers

An "unlucky 13" of Britain's most wanted criminals thought to be hiding in Spain has been unveiled, including suspects from Liverpool and Manchester.

Full details of the list were revealed by the charity Crimestoppers, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and Spanish police in Madrid.

The list included convicted drug dealers and the suspected masterminds of major drug smuggling conspiracies.

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