Britain issues top 10 wanted list for 'Costa del Crime'

20th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain released a wanted list of 10 criminals it is hunting in Spain on Thursday, calling on the public to help catch a handful of murderers, a drug smuggler and a paedophile.

British police make an annual plea for help in Spain, whose southern Costa del Sol has been tagged the Costa del Crime because of the number of British outlaws believed to be sunning themselves on its beaches.

Among the five new names in this year's top ten was Simon Dutton, a member of a gang that sent millions of pounds of cocaine into Britain via Spain and is now believed to be in the country.

The 34-year-old, who has "Rachel" tattooed on his right arm, is wanted following a British police operation that seized cocaine with a street value of over 1.6 million pounds (1.8 million euros/$2.5 million).

Another 17 people have already been convicted and sentenced to jail terms totalling in excess of 170 years in the case.

Dutton, who is from Bolton in northwestern England, is "dangerous and considered violent", said a statement by Crimestoppers, a British crime-fighting organisation that published the list.

A paedophile who targets "vulnerable" women with children, a convicted armed robber and a man wanted for possession of firearms are among the suspects on the list.

Five men wanted for murder were on last year's list but have not been found.

Since Crimestoppers began its Operation Captura -- which identifies serious criminals on the run in Spain who are wanted by British police for crimes committed in Britain -- in 2006, 46 of the 60 suspects have been captured.

"The message we are sending out is very clear: there is nowhere to hide," Britain's Crime and Security Minister James Brokenshire told a Madrid news conference.

"Spain is no longer the safe haven for UK criminals it may once have seemed to some. We are determined to continue our work together to ensure justice is done," he said.

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.

But greater international police cooperation and the introduction of European arrest warrants in 2004 are credited with a rise in arrests of Britons on the run in Spain.

About one million British residents live part or all of the year in Spain and another roughly 17 million Britons visit the country each year.

© 2011 AFP

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