An alleged drug dealer who crashed a stolen Land Rover courtesy car in Halifax after a high-speed police chase with his wife, children and £100,000 cash inside, is among nine “most wanted” suspects believed to have fled to the Netherlands.
Independent UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and the National Crime Agency (NCA) are once again seeking Britain’s most wanted fugitives.
The new appeal is the latest to be launched under Operation Return – a multi-agency campaign with the full co-operation of Dutch Police and Meld Misdaad Anoniem (Dutch Crimestoppers) - to track down individuals believed to be hiding in the country.
The five fugitives added to the list are some of the UK’s most dangerous criminals including Shazad Ghafoor from Manchester who is wanted for fraud, dangerous driving, possession of a Class B drug (cannabis and cannabis resin) with intent to supply and failure to surrender to bail.
Ghafoor, who is a disqualified driver, took a courtesy car from a dealership in Manchester in August 2013 using a driving license in another person’s name. The vehicle was spotted by police and the pursuit ended in Halifax.
When the car was stopped, cash to the value of £80-100,000 was recovered. There were traces of heroin, cocaine and cannabis on the notes.
He was charged with fraud, possession of criminal property, dangerous driving and disqualified driving.
Ghafoor was also charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply after a vehicle was searched in Withington in November 2013 and cannabis worth £245,000 was found.
In May 2014 Ghafoor pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.
He was due to appear at court in February 2015 in relation to the other charges but failed to answer his bail and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
In addition, Ghafoor was charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply in relation to a separate seizure of cannabis worth £24,000 that was found at a house on Kingsway Avenue, Burnage, in September 2014.
He was due to appear in court but failed to answer his bail and another warrant was issued for his arrest.
This is the fourth Operation Return appeal to be made since 2010, the previous three have so far resulted in 10 out of 14 wanted fugitives being apprehended. The outstanding four are being re-advertised in conjunction with the new faces.
Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, the Founder and Chair of Crimestoppers, said: “With the support of the Dutch authorities and the public, we are confident that we can successfully hunt these people down.”
“Crimestoppers, and our partners Meld Misdaad Anoniem, provide a unique service. Members of the public can call us, confident that we will never know who they are - they will never have to give a statement or go to court, we just want to know where these people are hiding.
Dave Allen, Head of the International Crime Bureau at the National Crime Agency, said: “The NCA and its partners will pursue fugitives relentlessly. Those who believe they can use the Netherlands to evade justice or continue illegal activities soon find out that it is not a safe haven.
“In the last five years, over 100 fugitives linked to Operation Return and other operations have been captured in the Netherlands and brought back to the UK to face justice. Be our extra eyes and ears and let us know if you have any information on the whereabouts of our targets.”
As a result of joint working between the NCA, UK police forces and the Dutch authorities, 23 fugitives were captured in the Netherlands in 2015, 15 in 2014, 18 in 2013, 20 in 2012 and 25 in 2011.
Information given to Crimestoppers can help locate the fugitives on the Operation Return list. For those people calling from The Netherlands there is a special freephone 0800 7000 telephone number which will be answered by Meld Misdaad Anoniem call agents. People can also pass information anonymously via the UK Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. A translation service is available upon request.