Monday 28th February 2011

Investigators have called on expats living in Spain to keep a vigilant eye open for criminals that they believe are hiding among the country’s millions of expatriates.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) together with Crimestoppers have released a list of the 10 most want criminals who they believe have fled to Spain in order to avoid prosecution. The list, which has been named Operation Captura, includes suspected murderers, drug traffickers and individuals accused of abusing children many of whom are believed to have based themselves in Spain’s Costa del Sol. The Costa del Sol, nicknamed “Costa del Crime” became notorious for harboring criminals in the 1970s when the extradition of British criminals was virtually impossible. Today it remains a popular hideout despite the fact that extraditions can now be carried out quickly and easily.

Included on this year’s list is Derek McGraw, a Scotsman who is accused of murdering Thomas Cameron in Glasgow. McGraw, who has part of one ear missing, may be one of the easier suspects to identify.

Jonathon Lejman from Stoke-on-Trent, wanted in connection with an alleged knife attack during a burglary, also has distinguishing features in the form of elaborate tattoos, which his Crimestoppers profile describes as: "a tribal design on the back of his neck, Celtic band tattoo on left upper arm, tattoos on his left and right hands with words in Arabic, tattoo on his right arm of a dragon, tattoo on his back with rose and the names Louise, John and Jordan. Tattoo on his chest with writing in Thai and a tattoo with a picture of a pitbull's head and the words 'only the strong survive'."

A gallery featuring the profiles of all ten suspects can be found on the Crimestoppers website.

It is hoped that this year’s campaign will share the same success as those launched in previous years. Discussing the outcomes of the previous 5 campaigns, Dave Cording director of operations said: "We've continually had an overwhelming response to this campaign, resulting in over 500 pieces of useful information on the fugitives sought.”

Appealing for the help of expats, Ken Gallagher, Soca’s head of operations commented: "Operation Captura is helping make the expat community in Spain an uncomfortable place for fugitives. "Having the public's attention focused on these individuals goes a long way to making it harder for them to hide and should act as a warning that Spain is no safe haven for British criminals."

If you have any information that will be of use to the Crimestoppers team you can contact them by calling +44 800 555 111 or can complete an online form. All informants will be assured full anonymity.

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