A 13-feet high mugshot of suspected Lancashire drug dealer David McDermott is one of the latest tourist atttractions on Spain’s “Costa Del Crime.”
The 41-year-old, from Ormskirk, features in a rogues gallery of Britain’s 18 most wanted fugitives being broadcast on a giant mobile digital screen on tour around popular ex-pat hotspots this summer.
McDermott, wanted by the National Crime Agency on suspicion of conspiracy to supply cocaine, is believed to have fled Britain in 2013 after police foiled a plan to smuggle 400 kilos of the drug into the country hidden in a container of frozen Argentinian beef. Five members of a Liverpool crime gang are already serving prison sentences totalling 42 years for the plot. But McDermott, who was filmed by undercover NCA officers meeting other suspects at a retail park in Aintree, slipped the net.
Operation Captura, where police target British fugitives believed to be living in Spain, has already netted 65 of the 76 suspects named and shamed since it began in 2006.
The latest chapter of the campaign by crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and the NCA, is focusing on 18 men believed to be on the run, including murder suspects, sex offenders and drug smugglers and dealers.
McDermott, whose last-known address was in Liverpool, is also wanted on suspicion of conspiracy to blackmail. NCA officers, who watched and listened as he met gang members in Aintree, say they discussed a “violent mission” to recover the drugs, not knowing they had been seized by police at Tilbury.
The digital screen, attached to the back of a van, is touring areas of Spain where fugitives are thought to be hiding among British communities, including Benidorm, Malaga and Puerto Banus.
Lord Ashcroft, chair of Crimestoppers, said: “Operation Captura has proved a huge success since it was launched and the majority of individuals on our most wanted list have been captured.
“However there are still a number of c riminals who are evading arrest. We must ensure these individuals are brought to justice.”
Steve Reynolds, NCA deputy director, added: “By taking our campaign directly into Spanish communities where we believe they are living and socialising, their lives will become even more uncomfortable.”