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Nearly 300 fugitives wanted for crimes across Europe caught hiding in UK during lockdown

Written by on 30 September 2020

Detectives have used the pandemic lockdown to arrest nearly 300 fugitives hiding in the UK.

Investigators for the National Crime Agency (NCA) tracked down suspects, mostly foreigners, wanted for human trafficking, sex crimes, drug smuggling, money laundering and many other offences.

Police forces across the country were involved in the arrests, in spite of pressure on resources during the coronavirus crisis.

Arthur Whitehead, operations manager of the NCA’s International Crime Bureau, said: “Lockdown was unique for us because it produced an opportunity for limited travel for those serious organised criminals that look to evade us on a regular basis and gave us an opportunity to exploit intelligence and we were able to act quickly.

“And even though the pressures that were placed on law enforcement throughout that period across law enforcement, a focus and a real drive to catch these criminals was put in place during the lockdown period.”

Among those arrested was Afghan Jafar Mohammad, 40, wanted in Germany for human trafficking and organised immigration crimes across Europe.

He is said to have run a money exchange bureau in Greece where money paid by illegal immigrants was moved to smugglers’ accounts for more than two years.

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Mohammad, allegedly a member of a big organised crime group, was arrested at an address in Hanwell, west London.

Arshid Ali Khan, 38, had been on the run for six years, wanted in the Netherlands for child sex abuse and making threats to kill.

He was traced through financial transactions to an address in Leicester and was arrested and extradited in June.

Romanian Constantin Adrian Postelnicu, 28, who was on the run from Italian authorities over allegations of trafficking women for sex, was tracked down to Staffordshire.

A British man, Stephen Bullman, 60, was arrested and extradited to Dublin over an alleged rape in 2001. He was thought to be living in Cumbria, but investigators traced him to Essex and he was held within 24 hours.

Assed Koluni, 43, was arrested after leaving a cafe with his morning shopping in a west London street. He’s wanted in Belgium for involvement in people smuggling.

Mr Whitehead said: “This work is crucial for us to ensure the safety of the UK public, protecting them from serious harm from the most serious offenders worldwide.”

More than 50 of the 297 suspects arrested have already been extradited on European Arrest Warrants.