Clinton Blakey, a 38-year-old man wanted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) for trafficking weapons and ammunition, has been apprehended in Spain and extradited to the United Kingdom. Blakey, suspected of being involved in an organised crime group that facilitated the movement of firearms and ammunition from Liverpool to Leeds, was accompanied by an extradition team from the NCA’s Joint International Crime Centre (JICC) during his return on Thursday evening.

Blakey’s arrest took place on 17 May this year in Marbella, Spain, following an extensive surveillance operation. He is believed to be connected to the discovery of a Howa bolt-action rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition seized at a residence in Leeds in 2020.

Having evaded capture for three years, Blakey failed to appear in Leeds Magistrates’ Court in 2020 to face charges related to the weapons and ammunition offences. In 2021, NCA investigators traced him to Madrid, Spain, resulting in his initial arrest by Spanish Police. However, he managed to flee after being granted bail.

Yesterday, at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, Blakey faced additional charges of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs, which pertain to the same period as the alleged firearms and ammunition offences. Following the hearing, he was immediately remanded into custody to serve the remaining duration of an eight-year sentence for a separate drugs conviction, as he had violated his parole conditions.

The arrest of Clinton Blakey followed that of Paul Shepherd, a former professional footballer, who was found guilty of his involvement in storing the weapons and is currently awaiting sentencing. These arrests, along with others across West Yorkshire, Merseyside, and the North East, were part of Operation Venetic—an extensive law enforcement operation aimed at dismantling the encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

Nigel Coles, NCA Operations Manager, emphasised the significance of Blakey’s arrest, stating, “Firearms and the supply of Class A drugs are inextricably linked and are often the cause of violence and exploitation in communities. Ensuring they are taken out of circulation and those associated with their use face the consequences of their actions are crucial to our work protecting the public.”

The successful collaboration between the NCA and the Spanish National Police Organised Crime Fugitive Team resulted in Blakey’s capture and extradition. The NCA remains committed to combatting organised crime and safeguarding the public by removing firearms and illicit drugs from circulation and bringing perpetrators to justice.