London: Five Down, Two To Go, As Dragnet Closes On Fugitives:SOCA

5 Feb

Time is running out for the last two men on a law enforcement hit-list of armed robbery suspects.

Five of the seven wanted men have been arrested in a multi-agency crackdown on north west organised crime, four of them while they were on the run in Spain. A dramatic dawn raid outside Amsterdam on Thursday, in which Sean Devalda, 24, was captured, leaves just two more fugitives in investigators’ sights.

Devalda’s brother Stephen, 27, and Andrew Moran, 28, are believed to be hiding out somewhere in Europe. Both are suspected of involvement in an armed robbery on a Royal Mail vehicle at the Asda store in Colne in May 2005. A guard was injured and £25,000 was taken. Lancashire Police issued European Arrest Warrants on both men.

Stephen DevaldaStephen Devalda

Andrew MoranAndrew Moran

The seven men are all wanted as part of Project Gulf – a multi-agency initiative to combat organised crime in Salford.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency’s Matt Burton said: “We believe these seven men are members of organised crime gangs that have caused havoc and spread fear for years. On behalf of the communities they have preyed on, the Gulf team has said enough is enough.

“Excellent cooperation with Amsterdam Police led to the capture of Sean Devalda. Now we have his brother Stephen and Andrew Moran in our sights. I am confident that with the support of the public and the continuing efforts of our officers we are closing the net on them.

“The organisations involved in Project Gulf pooled their collective resources to find these fugitives and bring them back. This is a system which works, and I have no doubt we will be using it again”.

The joint SOCA and Amsterdam Police operation to arrest Sean Devalda involved a team of armed officers, a helicopter and divers. Another man, aged 28, was also arrested. During searches, officers recovered a firearm, €50,000 cash and a number of high value watches.

Devalda is wanted by Greater Manchester Police in connection with firearms offences and conspiracy to rob a Group 4 ‘cash in transit’ vehicle in February 2007. Three men have already been jailed for a total of 25 years. Devalda is in custody and extradition proceedings are underway.

Chief of Detectives for Amsterdam Police, Commissioner Arno Julsing, said: “The information exchange plays a big role in these cases. I am very pleased we have been able to make this arrest. It’s another example of successful international cooperation with our British colleagues.”

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan from GMP’s Salford Division said: “This demonstrates the Gulf team continues to put huge pressure on organised crime groups from Salford. We have been working hard to tackle organised crime in the city and make it a safer place for local residents.

“I hope the Salford community will be reassured that we are leaving no stone unturned in our continued efforts to track down fugitives on the run.”

If you wish to pass on information about the whereabouts of Stephen Devalda or Andrew Moran anonymously, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 from the UK or 900 555 111 from Spain.

www.soca.gov.uk

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