Time is running out for the last two men on a law enforcement hit-list of armed robbery suspects.
Five of the seven wanted men have been arrested in a multi-agency crackdown on north west organised crime, four of them while they were on the run in Spain. A dramatic dawn raid outside Amsterdam yesterday, in which Sean Devalda, 24, was captured, leaves just two more fugitives in investigators’
Devalda’s brother Stephen, 27, and Andrew Moran, 28, are believed to be hiding out somewhere in Europe. Both are suspected of involvement in an armed robbery on a Royal Mail vehicle at the Asda store in Colne in May 2005. A guard was injured and £25,000 was taken. Lancashire Police issued European Arrest Warrants on both men.
The seven men are all wanted as part of Project Gulf – a multi-agency initiative to combat organised crime in Salford.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency’s Matt Burton said: "We believe these seven men are members of organised crime gangs that have caused havoc and spread fear for years. On behalf of the communities they have preyed on, the Gulf team has said enough is enough.
"Excellent cooperation with Amsterdam Police led to the capture of Sean Devalda. Now we have his brother Stephen and Andrew Moran in our sights. I am confident that with the support of the public and the continuing efforts of our officers we are closing the net on them.
"The organisations involved in Project Gulf pooled their collective resources to find these fugitives and bring them back. This is a system which works, and I have no doubt we will be using it again".
The joint SOCA and Amsterdam Police operation to arrest Sean Devalda involved a team of armed officers, a helicopter and divers. Another man, aged 28, was also arrested. During searches, officers recovered a firearm, €50,000 cash and a number of high value watches.
Devalda is wanted by Greater Manchester Police in connection with firearms offences and conspiracy to rob a Group 4 'cash in transit' vehicle in February 2007. Three men have already been jailed for a total of 25 years. Devalda is in custody and extradition proceedings are underway.
Chief of Detectives for Amsterdam Police, Commissioner Arno Julsing, said: "The information exchange plays a big role in these cases. I am very pleased we have been able to make this arrest. It’s another example of successful international cooperation with our British colleagues."
Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan from GMP's Salford Division said: "This demonstrates the Gulf team continues to put huge pressure on organised crime groups from Salford. We have been working hard to tackle organised crime in the city and make it a safer place for local residents.
"I hope the Salford community will be reassured that we are leaving no stone unturned in our continued efforts to track down fugitives on the run."
If you wish to pass on information about the whereabouts of Stephen Devalda or Andrew Moran anonymously, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 from the UK or 900 555 111 from Spain.
If you have problems viewing the images that accompany this release, please follow the link below;
Notes to editors
1. Amsterdam Police have footage of the dawn raid, which includes the arrest of Sean Devalda, and this can be downloaded by visiting ftp.rtvnh.nl (Login: politie-amsterdam Password: rtvnh4politie). Mugshots of Devalda, his brother Stephen and Andrew Moran can be downloaded from www.soca.gov.uk
2. Project Gulf involves a wide variety of agencies using all the tools and powers at their disposal to not only put criminals behind bars but also disrupt their lifestyles. This includes where they meet, how they launder money, how they travel and how they exploit legitimate businesses in order to carry out criminal activities.
In the last six months, officials have removed licences for illegal security businesses; closed down a public house that criminals were using as a meeting place; captured fugitives living overseas; and seized tyres from a company that was planning to illegally export them all over the world.
The Gulf team includes representatives from Greater Manchester Police, Salford Council, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, UK Border Agency, Environment Agency, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, DVLA, Department of Work and Pensions, Security Industry Association, City West Housing Trust and HM Revenue & Customs.
3. The four fugitives previously captured and extradited to the UK as part of Project Gulf are:
Richard Smith, 29, and Jared Jones, 28, who fled England in May 2010 after Smith escaped from a prison van. The van had just arrived at Salford Magistrates’ Court when it was attacked by two armed and masked men. They escaped in a white transit van. Both were wanted in connection with an arson attack in Walkden in 2009 which caused £1.2 million worth of damage. Vital forensic evidence linking a car to an armed robbery was destroyed in the fire. Smith and Jones were arrested in September 2010 shortly after a botched bank robbery attempt in Benissa, Alicante, in which they are believed to have been involved. Smith and Jones are currently remanded in custody awaiting trial.
Lee Tansey, aged 33, was captured in November 2010 as he was about to board a plane at Malaga Airport. He was wanted by West Yorkshire Police in connection with robberies at the Lloyds TSB bank in Elland in June 2009 and the HSBC bank in Marsh, Huddersfield, in June 2009. Lancashire Police also wanted him as he is believed to have been involved in an armed robbery at the Lloyds TSB bank on Duckworth St, Darwen, in June 2008. Tansey is remanded in custody awaiting trial.
Rickton Henry, aged 30, was arrested at a house in the Mijas area of Spain in November 2010. He is wanted in connection with the same two West Yorkshire offences as Tansey. Henry is also remanded in custody awaiting trial.
For more information contact the SOCA press office on 0870 268 8100
Sign up for our RSS news feed at www.soca.gov.uk
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept