Some of the UK’s most wanted men thought to be at large in Spain.


The number of Britons with arrest warrants who are detained in Spain increases each year. Some of these were wanted by the Spanish police but others - 24 out of a total of 275 arrested by the Guardia Civil - were subject to international warrants, and between 2012 and 2015 the number of those arrested with these warrants rose each year: in 2012 there were three arrests but in 2015 the figure was up to ten.

Most of those who had fled British justice were in the Balearics, Canaries or on the east coast of the mainland (Alicante area) and on the south coast, especially on the Costa del Sol. All of these are areas where it is relatively easy to go unnoticed without needing to speak any Spanish. Despite this, of fugitives from different countries who have been detained, Britons are among the top five.

Of the various crimes for which they were being pursued, these included tax fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, murder and child abuse. In the case of the latter, an investigator at the Guardia Civil's central operating unit suggests that the UK is particularly diligent in monitoring those who have committed sex crimes involving children.

There is no particular profile of the British criminal on the run, but Guardia sources say that members of organised criminal gangs are more structured and can be more difficult to pursue because of greater use of sophisticated and encrypted communications. However, they still get caught, and one reason is because they then commit crimes in Spain.

One notable success for the Guardia was the arrest of Robert Dawes. He had led the largest drug trafficking organisation in Europe and had taken refuge on the Costa del Sol. Dawes was able to move 1.5 tons of cocaine by plane from Venezuela to Europe and then through the Channel Tunnel in cars with false floors. Under investigation from 2007, he was arrested last year at his luxury residence in Benalmádena and subsequently handed over to the French authorities, who had sought his arrest.

There was also Michael Roden, who was wanted by British police for drug trafficking. He was picked up in Alicante where he was living, though he had a marijuana business in a small village near Granada.