Two 'most wanted' held in Spain

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The Independent Online

Two of Britain's most wanted fugitives were arrested in Spain today, just a day after the launch of a project targeting criminals on the run.

Anthony Kearney, accused of fraud offences including dishonestly obtaining benefits, and Donna McCafferty, also wanted for fraud offences, were detained by local police in the Alicante area of southern Spain, the charity Crimestoppers said.

Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) issued descriptions of 10 criminals believed to be hiding in the Costa Blanca area around Alicante yesterday as part of Operation Captura 2.

It aims to catch people wanted in the UK for crimes including murder, sex offences, drug trafficking and kidnap in the UK.

Kearney, 43, is wanted by Strathclyde Police in his native Scotland, and is known to use nine different aliases including Philip M Hanscombe, Alan McBride and Charles Connelly.

McCafferty, 41 and also wanted by the Strathclyde force, was arrested under the alias Elizabeth McAndrew. She has also used the name Janet Kearney.

More than 25,000 people have visited the Crimestoppers website in the 24 hours since the new appeal was launched, with more than 50 "valuable" pieces of information being passed on to police.

The charity's chief executive, Mick Laurie, said: "Two arrests so quickly is an amazing result for law enforcement and the Crimestoppers charity.

"This proves how well Operation Captura and Most Wanted works - these criminals have nowhere to hide, their faces are on the internet for all to see."

Among the fugitives still on the run is 29-year-old Adam Hart, who is suspected of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Hart escaped arrest in August 2007 as police officers searched his workplace.

Denise Holt, the British ambassador to Spain, said: "I am delighted with the speed with which the Spanish authorities have acted, and the phenomenal response from the public.

"This has meant that, in less than 24 hours, two dangerous individuals out of the 10 serious criminals at large have been caught and will be brought to justice."

The ambassador urged the public to keep up the supply of information to Crimestoppers.

Since Crimestoppers began in 1988, the charity has received over a million calls, resulting in over 87,000 arrests and charges.

Anyone with information about any of the individuals in Operation Captura 2 can call the freephone Spanish 900 555 111 telephone number.

The call will be answered in the UK and a translation service is available.

Information can also be passed on anonymously via the Crimestoppers' website.

A spokesman for Soca said: "These arrests prove how well this innovative partnership is working.

"The message to other criminals is simple: you cannot escape the long arm of the law.

"We will find you and bring you back to face justice."