A hunt for some of the UK’s most-wanted fugitives believed to be hiding in Cyprus was launched in Nicosia on Friday, led by the UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The second Operation Zygos campaign features six brand new appeals for fugitives, and the five remaining suspected criminals from the first campaign in 2012. All are thought to be evading justice in what is one of the most popular countries for British ex-pats.
Rape, heroin trafficking and the setup of fraudulent travel agencies defrauding an estimated 20,000 people, by luring customers attracted by cut-price holidays, are some of the crimes the featured individuals are wanted for by UK law enforcement agencies.
Other alleged crimes include a horse racing betting scam and various types of advanced fee fraud connected to the breeding of racehorses.
Since the original Operation Zygos appeal, four of the nine featured individuals have been arrested, the first within just 48hours of the campaign when a man wanted for sexual offences against a child was located. Among those caught were Wayne Smith and Julie Skelding who were wanted for causing death by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.
In his welcoming address, the British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd noted that the campaign highlights the continuing work between Crimestoppers, the NCA and the Cypriot Police Authorities (CYPOL). Crimestoppers and the NCA also work closely with the British High Commission in Nicosia as well as British and Cypriot law enforcement agencies.
Lord Ashcroft, KCMG PC, Founder and Chair of Crimestoppers, said: “Following the last Operation Zygos appeal in Cyprus in 2012, a third of the featured suspects were arrested in just three weeks following the launch. The results speak for themselves; these outcomes reiterate the effectiveness of the Crimestoppers model in the UK and overseas in locating criminals attempting to evade justice.
“Operation Zygos aims to ensure members of the public in Cyprus are alert to the possible presence on the island of the eleven wanted individuals. Information given anonymously to Crimestoppers can help lead to their location and arrest which we are confident will come to pass following this appeal.”
Steve Bennett, the NCA’s Head of European Operations, said: “This campaign builds on the NCA’s close relationship with Crimestoppers and the Cypriot authorities, working together to combat criminal threats to the public.
“Fugitives don’t just give up their criminal behaviour, they typically remain part of the criminal world, creating harm and causing damage, sometimes to the new communities they live in. We are determined to ensure life on the run is intolerable for them and that they are brought back to face justice.
“The most important thing is the power of this campaign to harness the eyes and ears of the public, both in Cyprus and the UK. If you have information on the whereabouts of our targets, no matter how small or trivial it seems, call Crimestoppers anonymously and let us know.”
Cyprus Police Deputy Chief Andreas Kyriacou said: “As Cyprus Police, taking into consideration the positive results if ‘Operation Zygos’, we wish to continue this co-operation because in this way we send a clear message that Cyprus, even though a hospitable country for lawful citizens, does not constitute in any way a safe destination for fugitive criminals. We must all contribute to achieve this goal, Police, media and citizens”.
For those people calling from Cyprus there is a dedicated Cypriot number freephone 8000 5511 which will be answered in the UK by Crimestoppers’ call agents. A translation service is available upon request. People can also pass on information anonymously via the UK Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111, online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or from Cyprus www.crimestoppers.org.cy .
The eleven ‘most wanted’ are: Jeffrey Bloor (conspiracy to defraud; money laundering, Richard Ardolino (conspiracy to defraud; money laundering), Osman Aydeniz (conspiracy to supply class A drugs; conspiracy to commit theft; money laundering), Ozgur Demir (conspiracy to supply class A drugs), Ersin Mustafa (eight counts of insider dealing while employed at JP Morgan Cazenove), Christakis Philippou/Christakis Chrysostomou (conspiracy to defraud in the travel industry), Hasan Akarcay or Hassan Etem/ Ibrahim Etem (conspiracy to supply class A drugs), Timur Mehmet (conspiracy to cheat the public revenue of £25 mln (€31.5mln), Costas Sampson (rape; theft; voyeurism), Mehmet Salih/Aynur Mehmet Salih (conspiracy to supply class A drugs), Martin Evans or Martin Roydon Evans/ Martin Wayne Evans/ Anthony Hall/ Paul Kelly (onspiracy to supply class A drugs; fraudulent trading as director of an incorporated company, Ostrich Centre Limited, in 1995).
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