A fugitive who fled the country after being bailed when he was charged with trafficking weapons and ammunition is facing further charges after being returned to the UK.
Clinton Blakey, 38, was accompanied on a flight back to the UK on Thursday evening by an extradition team from the National Crime Agency (NCA).
He was arrested in a vehicle in Marbella, Spain, on 17 May this year following a surveillance operation.
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.
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.
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.
His initial arrest followed that of Paul Shepherd’s, a former Leeds United professional footballer.
Shepherd was convicted for his role in 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.
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.”
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