Drug dealer hunted

Mark Lilley
Mark Lilley

A NOTORIOUS Wigan drugs baron is believed to be living the high life in Spain - 11 years after he should have been caged.

In 2000 former Golborne man Mark Lilley was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis plus possession of a firearm following a trial at Bolton Crown Court.

But after being controversially allowed bail prior to sentencing, Lilley went on the run and has been at large ever since. The trial judge sentenced him to 23 years’ imprisonment in his absence.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency and Crimestoppers relaunched Operation Captura this week which aims to round up major fugitives from justice thought to be in Spain.

Lilley, whose most recent English address is given as Bank Street in Newton-le-Willows although he was considered a major player in the Wigan drug scene of the late 1990s, is among those most wanted.

Said to be about 35 years old he goes by the nicknames Coney, TJ, Fatboy, Big Vern and Mandy. He is white, about 6ft tall, of large build with brown eyes and has dark receding hair.

Multi-agency campaign Captura identifies individuals on the run in Spain who are wanted by UK law enforcement agencies for serious crimes committed in the UK.

Since the campaign launched in October 2006, there have been 50 appeals; 38 of whom have been arrested. Many are now serving lengthy prison sentences for crimes which range from drug trafficking to sex crimes to murder.

However, Lilley is one of the minority who has managed to evade capture.

Ken Gallagher, Head of European Operations for SOCA, said: “Operation Captura is helping make the ex-pat community in Spain an uncomfortable place for fugitives. Having the public’s attention focussed on these individuals goes a long way to making it harder for them to hide and should act as a warning that Spain is no safe haven for British criminals.”

Anyone with information should ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or 900 555 111.