British fugitive found naked in Spanish panic room

Convicted drug trafficker Mark Lilley arrested at his villa in Malaga

Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 15:24

One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been caught hiding naked in a panic room at his luxury Spanish villa, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has said.

Convicted drug trafficker Mark Lilley went on the run in 2000 when he skipped bail during a trial.

He was finally arrested when more than 40 armed police officers launched a dawn raid on his home in Malaga on Saturday.

Officers were unable to open Lilley’s panic room, but he surrendered after realising there was no escape. He had been alerted to the operation when several hunting dogs he kept in his garden started barking.

Whilst in the panic room he was naked and watching the raid using a computer linked to CCTV cameras. Extradition proceedings have begun to return Lilley to the UK.

Footage of the operation shows officers climbing over a gate before running to Lilley’s front door and smashing their way in with a battering ram.

The fugitive is then seen being handcuffed with a strip of cloth wrapped around the lower half of his body. Tattoos covering large parts of his head, chest, arms and back are visible.

The footage shows how the panic room was concealed behind a wardrobe in his bedroom, which had a four-poster bed.

A police helicopter hovered above the villa in the Alhurin de la Torre area during the raid, which was a joint operation by the Spanish National Police and Soca. A handgun was recovered.

After going on the run, Lilley (41), from Warrington, Cheshire, was given a 23-year prison sentence in his absence for masterminding a large-scale drug operation and firearm offences.

His appearance during Saturday’s raid was significantly different to how he looked in a photograph used by Soca to appeal for information about his location.

Dave Allen, head of the Fugitives Unit at Soca, said: “Lilley was a dangerous man with access to firearms. He had evaded capture for a long time by moving around Spain and using false identities. Now he’s behind bars where he belongs and extradition proceedings are under way.

“My message for other fugitives on the run is a simple one - we will hunt you down and you will face justice for your crimes.”