A man wanted by the UK´s National Crime Agency (NCA) for trafficking weapons and ammunition has been returned to the UK and sent back to prison and charged with drugs offences after he was arrested in Marbella (Malaga).
Thirty-eight-year-old Clinton Blakey was accompanied on a flight back to the UK on Thursday evening by an extradition team from the NCA’s Joint International Crime Centre (JICC).
He was arrested in a vehicle in Marbella, Spain, on May 17 following a surveillance operation.
Firearms and ammunition
Blakey is suspected of being part of an organised crime group facilitating the movement of firearms and ammunition from Liverpool to Leeds. He is allegedly linked to a Howa bolt-action rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition seized at a house in Leeds in 2020.
On the run
Blakey had been on the run for three years, after failing to turn up at Leeds Magistrates’ Court to face the weapons and ammunition charges in 2020.
As part of Operation Venetic, NCA investigators traced Blakey to Madrid, Spain, in 2021, where he was arrested by Spanish Police. However he fled again after being given bail in Spain.
On Friday, at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, in addition to the firearms and ammunition charges, he was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. These new charges relate to the same timeframe as the alleged firearms and ammunition offences.
Blakey was immediately put into custody and will now serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence from a separate drugs conviction after breaching his licence conditions.
His initial arrest followed that of Paul Shepherd’s, a former professional footballer. Shepherd was convicted for his role storing the weapons and awaits sentencing.
Both men’s arrests triggered a number of others across West Yorkshire, Merseyside and the North East, all linked to Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat.
UK/Spain police collaboration
Nigel Coles, NCA Operations Manager, said: “Blakey was arrested after an intelligence led operation between the NCA and Spanish National Police Organised Crime Fugitive Team.
“Following an intense period of research and surveillance he was detained in a vehicle in Marbella and transported back to the UK.
“Firearms and the supply of Class A drugs are inextricably linked and are often the cause of violence and exploitation in communities. Ensuring they are taken out of circulation and those associated with their use face the consequences of their actions are crucial to our work protecting the public.”
In a Tweet the NCA acknowledged the close relationship and collaboration they have with the Spanish police.
We have an excellent relationship with the Spanish National Police and will continue to work closely with our international partners to ensure those who think they can stay under the radar have no place to hide.#ProudToProtect
— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) June 5, 2023
Also read: UK´s most wanted thought to be in Spain