Britain, Spain to step up fight against organised crime

18th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The success of the countries’ combined efforts – more than half of the criminals profiled were arrested – paves the way for future closer cooperation.

Madrid – Britain and Spain have agreed to step up their cooperation in the fight against organised crime following the arrest of dozens of British fugitives on Spanish soil, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson said Tuesday.

"We agreed that having spent much of the earlier part of this decade focusing quite properly on counter-terrorism and illegal migration, now is the time to treat the fight against organised crime as an equal priority," he said following talks in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

"The UK and Spain already have in place successful practical measures to tackle organised and financial crime. I hope we can build on that in the future," he added at a joint appearance before the press with Rubalcaba.

Johnson was referring to a meeting of interior ministers from the six European Union nations with the largest populations -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain -- held earlier this year in Berlin.

He pointed to "Operation Captura" which identifies serious criminals on the run in Spain who are wanted by British police for crimes committed in Britain as an example of the successful cooperation that already exists between London and Madrid against organised crime.

Since the campaign was first launched in October 2006, police have arrested 26 of the 50 serious criminals which it profiled, Johnson said. They have, or will shortly be, returned to Britain, he added.

The suspects profiled by "Operation Captura", jointly run by Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), British crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and Spanish law enforcement agencies are wanted for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to sex crimes to murder.

British media have long dubbed the resorts that dot the Costa del Sol on Spain's southern coast, where British-style pubs and fish and chips shops are a common sight, the "Costa del Crime" because of the number of fugitives known to have taken up residency there.

About one million British residents live part or all of the year in Spain, which welcomes about 17 million British tourists each year, Johnson said.

AFP / Expatica

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