'Unlucky' drug baron held in Spain

Braintree and Witham Times: David Mather was sentenced in his absence to 18 years in jail for conspiracy to import heroin (National Crime Agency/PA) 
David Mather was sentenced in his absence to 18 years in jail for conspiracy to import heroin (National Crime Agency/PA)

A man who was among an ''unlucky 13'' of Britain's most wanted criminals has been arrested in Spain.

David Mather, 57, from Manchester, was captured during a joint operation with the Spanish National Police on Friday morning, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Armed officers swooped while he was travelling in a car through La Linea close to the border with Gibraltar.

Mather was convicted in his absence in January 2013 of conspiracy to import heroin and was sentenced to 18 years. Extradition proceedings are now under way.

Mather featured in the Operation Captura "unlucky 13" campaign which is a scheme to trace criminals who are thought to have fled to Spain.

Hank Cole, head of international operations for the NCA, said: "This arrest is a result of close working with the Spanish authorities. Mather was using false identity documents to try and evade capture but we were able to track him down.

"It demonstrates the NCA and its partners have the capability to pursue fugitives wherever they are in the world."

Lord Ashcroft, founder and chairman of Crimestoppers, said: "The charity is obviously delighted by this latest arrest as this is the second Operation Captura subject to have been located since the turn of the year, which is a great result.

"David Mather has been convicted in his absence and will now have to come back to the UK to serve his sentence.

"We hope that this arrest will once again highlight that Crimestoppers, the NCA and our colleagues in Spain will not rest until wanted individuals are caught and brought to justice."

A freight company owned by Mather was involved in the logistics and movement of a lorry that was stopped at the Humber sea terminal in May 2010.

Within the bumper 32 wrapped packages of heroin were found. It is believed the vehicle had been used on a number of occasions to import similar amounts of drugs into the UK.

Mather's arrest means 58 from 76 wanted individuals appealed for since Operation Captura was launched have now been caught.

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