CRIMINALS from Britain may soon be turning away from the Costa del Sol if they seek to evade justice.
For decades, Andalucia has been the popular place for fugitives to hiding out in plain sight in mansions across the coast of southern Spain.
Gang leaders can lay low in the expat community, rub shoulders with fellow crooks in exclusive restaurants or dine aboard luxury yachts docked in Puerto Banus, just a stone’s throw away from Spain’s drug smuggling capital La Linea.
But hideout hotspots like Marbella and Fuengirola may no longer be the safe haven they once were.
Crime bosses used to rely on regular cheap flights between the UK and Spain and a regular flow of tourists helped them maintain low profiles and move between the two countries without arousing much suspicion.
But following the pandemic, and the success of Operation Captura, criminals may be seeking alternative locations if they want to continue to escape the police.
Out of the near-100 fugitives named in the long-running NCA and Crimestoppers campaign targeting suspects thought to be in Spain, fewer than a dozen now remain outstanding.
Captura sought the UK’s most wanted suspects and, 15 years on from its launch, has succeeded in tracking down almost every person to have featured within it.
Even renowned crooks the Kinahans, the subject of a Panorama documentary about its ties to British boxing, switched their Spanish hideout earlier this year for a life in Dubai.
The Middle East location is gaining popularity with fugitives thanks to its lavish lifestyle – and Britain’s difficulty in extraditing crooks from the plush city.
Alleged gang bosses Daniel Kinahan, 43, his brother Christopher, 40, and their father Christy, 64 and Scottish crime leader Steven Lyons, 39 are currently all suspected to be hiding out among the 240,000 expats Brits live in Dubai.
The scramble to find alternative hideouts comes as the latest survey from Spain’s Ministry of the Interior reveald that serious crime rates in Malaga are on track to hit a historic low.
Crime in Malaga plummeted in 2020 and this year serious crime rates have continued to drop across major expat hotspots including Fuengirola, Malaga city, Torremolinos and Marbella.
Nerja has seen the biggest fall in crime, sinking by 23.5%.
In the first three months of 2021, the total number of criminal offences reported decreased by 6.8%, from 16,773 last year to 15,637 this year.
The survey revealed that homicides and attempted murder had dropped by 75% from 12 cases in the first quarter of 2020 to only three this year.
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