A wanted fugitive suspected of being a principal member of one of Merseyside's biggest drug-dealing gangs has been arrested in Belgium.
Suspected drug trafficker Scott Hughes, 35, from Halewood, Merseyside, had been on the run since 2011 and was wanted for his alleged involvement in the large-scale supply of class A drugs throughout Merseyside.
He was captured on Monday as he travelled from Dubai to Belgium following a joint operation between the National Crime Agency (NCA), Belgian Federal Police and Merseyside Police.
The NCA said Hughes was stopped at Brussels Airport and is believed to have travelled using a fraudulent passport.
Extradition proceedings are now under way.
Hughes became a target of Operation Captura's most wanted campaign - a joint initiative between the NCA and Crimestoppers.
He is the 75th person out of 86 on the most wanted list to have been caught.
Dave Allen, head of the NCA's International Crime Bureau, said: “This is a significant arrest as Hughes is suspected of being one of the substantial players in a crime group responsible for distributing large amounts of drugs across Merseyside.
“Hughes had been on the run since 2011 and believed he could evade capture by moving from country to country using a fraudulent passport, but we were able to track him down and arrest him with the help of the Belgian authorities.”
Following the execution of a warrant at his home address in May 2011, officers recovered £212,705, a cash counting machine and a watches valued at £8,000.
As a result of the wider investigation, 16 other individuals were convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering.
A firearm was recovered along with 27kg of diamorphine, 14.6kg of cocaine, 2kg of cannabis, 2kg of amphetamine, 622kg of adulterants, £970,000 in cash, and watches valued at £191,000.
Det Supt Lee Turner, from Merseyside Police's Matrix Serious Organised Crime team, said they were “very pleased” with the developments.
He added: “Merseyside Police works very closely with the NCA's Fugitives Unit, as well as law enforcement agencies throughout Europe, to arrest people suspected of being involved in criminality.
“We will continue to work together to bring offenders to justice and use all the resources and legislation at our disposal to do so.”
Founder and chairman of Crimestoppers Lord Ashcroft said that the results of Operation Captura - which is currently in its tenth year, were “remarkable”.
He added: “To have been able to locate more than seven individuals a year accused or convicted of serious crimes shows this campaign works, but I would ask anyone with information on the outstanding 11 to contact Crimestoppers anonymously, safe in the knowledge nobody will know you have done so.”
Anyone with information about a crime can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.