A fugitive drug trafficker who headed a crime group that supplied huge amounts of heroin to the South West of England has been arrested in Tenerife.
Stephen Blundell, aged 36, of Leathers Lane, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin but fled to Spain before he could be sentenced in April 2013. He was later jailed for nine years eight months in his absence.
Blundell (pictured in 2013 and now) controlled a crime group which included a Cornish grandmother caught transporting £50,000 heroin under pasties in her shopping bag.
He was apprehended on a European Arrest Warrant when he handed himself in to the Spanish authorities at a police station in Tenerife on Monday.
Extradition proceedings will begin tomorrow when Blundell appears at the Spanish National Court in Madrid.
Blundell is the 64th fugitive to be located out of 76 publicised through Operation Captura – the multi-agency initiative between Crimestoppers, the National Crime Agency and the Spanish authorities. He featured in the Captura ‘unlucky thirteen’ campaign launched in November 2013.
Devon and Cornwall Police targeted Blundell as part of an 18-month long investigation into the supply of heroin from Merseyside into areas such as Bodmin, Exeter, Tiverton and Torquay. The other members of his crime group received sentences totalling 77 years.
Detective Constable Jason Braund, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “Enquiries revealed Blundell was hiding in Tenerife and we are now working closely with the National Crime Agency to ensure he is returned to the UK to serve his sentence.
“We will continue to hunt down those that abscond from justice whether they be here or overseas. The dismantling of Blundell’s drug network highlights we will not tolerate the supply of drugs in our communities and will continue to make Devon & Cornwall a safer place to live.”
Hank Cole, Head of International Operations for the NCA, said: “Blundell would have been constantly looking over his shoulder after his mugshot appeared across Spain as part of the Captura ‘unlucky thirteen’ campaign.
“It was only a matter of time before he was caught as the Spanish National Police had been carrying out intelligence-led operations in Tenerife. The law enforcement net was tightening and I believe he handed himself in when he realised his days on the run were numbered.
“We will continue to work with our partners to pursue fugitives wherever they are on the world. Spain is not a safe haven. Sixty four fugitives have been caught since Captura was launched, and many more linked to other operations.”
Founder and Chairman of Crimestoppers, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, said: “I am delighted to see that once again the collaborative work between Crimestoppers, the NCA and the Spanish Police bears fruit as we see another wanted criminal off our streets.
“The media and the public play a big role in putting pressure on these individuals, who continue to think they can evade capture, and Stephen Blundell handing himself in to the authorities is an example that eventually you will be caught or you will have no choice but to give yourself up.”
Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News