A Spanish man on the run from UK authorities has been apprehended in southern Spain.
On Thursday, December 28, Jesus Benito Fernandez-Asta, a 55-year-old Spanish citizen, was seized by the Spanish National Police in Almeria, acting in collaboration with the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA). His arrest marks the beginning of extradition proceedings back to the UK.
Fernandez-Asta is accused of masterminding a substantial cannabis import scheme. Authorities allege he arranged for a lorry carrying cannabis from Spain, then travelled to the UK to oversee its arrival.
Border Force officers intercepted the resin blocks in a pallet locker of an HGV at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Coquelles, France, in November 2020.
The NCA linked Fernandez-Asta to the smuggling attempt and traced him to Donald Hall Road, Brighton.
In August 2021, he was captured there, and a subsequent property search revealed more cannabis and cocaine, implying his involvement in broader drug distribution. Financial documents uncovered indicated transactions with Spanish contacts.
After being charged with conspiring to import Class B drugs, involvement in Class A and B drug supply, and money laundering, Fernandez-Asta was released on bail. He was scheduled for trial at Lewes Crown Court in July 2023 but absconded, prompting a warrant for his arrest.
Dean Wallbank, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, commented, ‘Fernandez-Asta stands accused of significant drug importation and distribution offences. I’m delighted he has been tracked down, and I’m grateful to our Spanish partners for their work in ensuring his arrest.’
He continued: ‘The process of returning him to the UK to face the courts here is now underway. This case again demonstrates that NCA has international reach, and no matter where fugitives try to hide, we have the determination and ability to hunt them down and bring them back to face justice.’
The NCA and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are now coordinating with Spanish authorities to expedite Fernandez-Asta’s extradition to the UK, ensuring he faces legal consequences for his alleged crimes.