A 29-year-old man by the name of Alex Male, one of the UK’s most wanted men, has been arrested after he attempted to flee to Portugal using a fraudulent passport.

It’s alleged that Male, from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, was a distributor of cocaine and ketamine via an EncroChat encrypted communications network. He was detained at Lisbon airport after arriving on a flight from Turkey where he had been refused entry, according to the National Crime Agency.

Male, who was added to the NCA’s most wanted list earlier this year, is charged with a series of offences, including conspiracy to supply class A drugs, money laundering, and conspiracy to acquire a firearm. He had been on the run after failing to follow the bail conditions of his arrest and had been residing in the Marbella area of the Costa del Sol in Spain before moving to Portugal. 

The NCA international liaison officer, Phil Robinson, said: “Male naively believed he could travel across international borders using fraudulent documentation and remain undetected by law enforcement. But he underestimated the vigilance and expertise of the Turkish border police, which enabled the Portuguese authorities to act. Any arrest of a fugitive is a fantastic result, even more so since Male had only recently been added to our most-wanted list. He is wanted in connection with dangerous crimes, which have a devastating impact on communities, so I’m delighted he has been caught. We continue to work with our international partners to close the net around fugitives, no matter where they are.”

Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins, of the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Male will now be returned to the criminal justice system in the UK to face the charges he ran away from. This is an example of international law enforcement working together to ensure justice can be done and demonstrating there is nowhere safe to hide.”