United Kingdom's 'Most Wanted' Drug Trafficker Captured In South Africa

By McCarton Ackerman 08/05/14

British authorities caught up to Martin Evans after he spent three years on the run.

martin evans.jpg
Martin Evans. Photo

A convicted drug trafficker who became one of the most wanted criminals in the United Kingdom was captured last weekend in South Africa.

Martin Evans, 52, was granted a one-week leave on temporary license in 2011 while six years into a 21-year prison sentence, but failed to return and went on the run. After reports surfaced last April that he was in Cyprus, an international manhunt was launched and an armed raid by authorities in the city of Johannesburg led to his recapture.

“This arrest shows the National Crime Agency and its partners will pursue fugitives wherever they are in the world,”
said Hank Cole, Head of International Operations at the agency. “They can run but they can’t hide. We have the capability to track them down and bring them to justice.”

Evans was sentenced in 2006 for a series of charges that included drug running, internet scams, and other frauds. He led an organized crime gang between 1999-2001 that supplied cocaine and MDMA, converted the profits into foreign currency, and then transferred it to the Netherlands so it could fund other drug operations. One of his scams involved swindling $1.5 million out of 115 investors over an ostrich farm venture, the money from which he used to find lavish lifestyles in both Miami and Marbella, Spain.

He and his wife, Esther, were originally charged in 2001, but he faxed Swansea Crown Court to say that he wouldn’t appear in court and ran off with a mistress to Spain. He hid there and in the Netherlands before finally being arrested that November after trying to use a false passport to enter the United States.

Evans was jailed and began serving his sentence five years later, while Esther was given a suspended sentence for her role in the ostrich farm scam due to having to raise their two children on her own.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.