JUST hours after being named as one of the top 10 most wanted fugitives, Brit Matthew Sammon has been arrested in Spain.
Police swarmed Sammon’s camper van in the popular Costa del Sol holiday resort of Fuengirola last night.
Two Costa del Sol-based journalists at the Olive Press staked out the suspected paedophile for hours after a tip-off from a British expat, while in communication with Crimestoppers and Spanish cops.
Wanted for possession of indecent images of children, Sammon, a black belt in Jujitsu, is believed to have been hiding out on the Costa del Sol for almost two years.
Indeed, a ferry ticket from Cork, Ireland, to the Roscoff port in northern France was discovered in his small camper van following his detention.
In the late night raid, two undercover policeman stormed the former Mitcham resident’s mobile home as he returned from walking his dog.
His former boss Daniel Reid, 40, a plasterer from Blackpool, who now lives in Spain, tipped-off the Olive Press about his whereabouts after Crimestoppers launched Operation Captura – a joint operation between UK and Spanish cops to hunt down the ten most wanted British criminals thought to be hiding out in Spain.
“As soon as I saw his face among the most wanted I felt sick,” said Reid, who had employed Sammon for six months earlier this year, “I let him hang around my children, we took him in with open arms and at first were none the wiser.
“But we always thought he was a bit weird, he’s a real loner and never talks about his family.
“He creeped me and my family out so much that I fired him.”
Following the arrest, National Crime Agency director Steve Reynolds praised the success of the appeal.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that within hours of launching the appeal we have already made an arrest,” he told the Olive Press.
“We know that fugitives try to hide among expats living in Spain, so that’s why we have tried very hard to get their faces out there.
“Thanks to the expat community for tipping us off, this is the reason we run these campaigns.”
Sammon was frisked at the side of the police car before being taken away by plain-clothed policemen.
He will be now be taken to a Alhaurin detention centre where he will be finger-printed before extradition to the UK.
A meeting of Spanish and UK officials yesterday at the tenth anniversary launch of Operation Captura saw Crimestoppers, UK ambassador to Spain Simon Manley and Spanish detectives appeal to the public for help in capturing the suspected and convicted criminals.
Stephen Lawrence murder suspect Jamie Acourt also featured on the list.
Acourt is now wanted for drug dealing and is thought to be laying low in Spain’s British expat community
Child abusers, fraudsters, human and drug traffickers all feature on the list, which was revealed yesterday at the Melia hotel in Torremolinos.
Ambassador Manley said: “The UK and Spain face similar challenges from terrorism, organised crime, drug rings and human trafficking.
“The best way we can face these challenges is to work together, and we will continue to develop our close working relationship to fight international crime.
“We cannot allow these people and their operations to flourish.”
Director of Crimestoppers Mark Hallas had a message for the criminals looking for a hideout in Spain.
“A small number of criminals in the UK see Spain as a hideout and a place to escape justice, but there is no safe haven for criminals in Spain,” he said.
“Individuals who commit appalling crimes must face justice.”
He added: “There is no fear in reporting these people to us or the police, we have never broken our anonymity promise in the more than 20 years we have been operating.”