One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been captured in Ghana following a three-year manhunt for his connection to a smuggling plot to import cocaine worth £71m into the UK.
David McDermott of Ormskirk, Lancashire, was the last man still being hunted by an international operation involving officers from the National Crime Agency and Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations. The 42-year-old, who was apprehended at a house in the Burma Hills area of country’s capital Accra, is suspected of being a member of an organised crime syndicate from Liverpool.
The group is believed to be responsible for a failed smuggling operation discovered by border force at Tilbury Docks in May 2013, when officers seized 400kg (881lbs) of cocaine smuggled into the country in a container of frozen Argentinian beef.
The suspected drug trafficker is also wanted for conspiracy to blackmail. He is currently being held in custody by the Ghanaian authorities, and the process to extradite him is scheduled to begin next week. His arrest means that 76 out of 86 fugitives on the Captura list have now been caught. The operation was launched in 2006 to trace wanted criminals suspected of fleeing to Spain to avoid the British authorities.
Speaking after McDermott’s arrest, Dave Allen, head of the NCA’s international crime bureau, said: “This arrest is a result of closely working with the Ghanaian authorities, and shows our determination and success in tracking down fugitives, however far they run in an attempt to evade capture. “McDermott was the last man outstanding in a plot to smuggle a huge quantity of cocaine which would have ended up on the streets of Merseyside. He will now be returned to the UK to stand trial.”
Lord Ashcroft, the founder and chairman of Crimestoppers, said: “With the tenth anniversary of Operation Captura on the horizon, I still find it immensely encouraging that arrests continue to be made far and wide. “While those featured as part of the campaign are suspected of being in Spain, the fact McDermott was picked up in Ghana is yet again evidence that no matter where fugitives are they will be found.”
The Tilbury Docks investigation has already resulted in six people being sentenced to a total of 64 years.
The Guardian/March 11, 2016