Second Operation Zygos campaign - hunting criminals believed to be hiding in Cyprus

A hunt for some of the UK’s most-wanted fugitives believed to be hiding in Cyprus has begun today, led by the UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The second Operation Zygos campaign features six brand new appeals for fugitives, and the five remaining suspected criminals from the first campaign in 2012. All are thought to be evading justice in what is one of the most popular countries for British ex-pats.

Rape, heroin trafficking and the set-up of fake travel agencies defrauding an estimated 20,000 people by luring customers attracted by cut-price holidays, are some of the crimes the featured individuals are wanted for by UK law enforcement agencies.

Other alleged crimes include a horse racing betting scam and various types of advanced fee fraud connected to the breeding of racehorses.

Since the original Operation Zygos appeal, four of the nine featured individuals have been arrested, the first within just 48 hours of the campaign when a man wanted for sexual offences against a child was located. Among those caught were also Wayne Smith and Julie Skelding who were wanted for causing death by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.

This campaign highlights the continuing work between Crimestoppers, the NCA and the Cypriot Police Authorities (CYPOL). Crimestoppers and the NCA also work closely with the British High Commission in Nicosia, as well as British and Cypriot law enforcement agencies.

Lord Ashcroft, KCMG PC, Founder and Chair of Crimestoppers, said: "Following the last Operation Zygos appeal in Cyprus in 2012, a third of the featured suspects were arrested in just three weeks following the launch. The results speak for themselves; these outcomes reiterate the effectiveness of the Crimestoppers model in the UK and overseas in locating criminals attempting to evade justice.

“Operation Zygos aims to ensure members of the public in Cyprus are alert to the possible presence on the island of the eleven wanted individuals. Information given anonymously to Crimestoppers can help lead to their arrest.”

Steve Bennett, the NCA’s Head of European Operations, said: “This campaign builds on the NCA’s close relationship with Crimestoppers and the Cypriot authorities, working together to combat criminal threats to the public.

“Fugitives don’t just give up their criminal behaviour, they typically remain part of the criminal world, creating harm and causing damage, sometimes to the new communities they live in. We are determined to ensure life on the run is intolerable for them and that they are brought back to face justice.

“The most important thing is the power of this campaign to harness the eyes and ears of the public, both in Cyprus and the UK. If you have information on the whereabouts of our targets, no matter how small or trivial it seems, call Crimestoppers anonymously and let us know.”

For those people calling from Cyprus there is a dedicated Cypriot number 8000 55 11 which will be answered in the UK by Crimestoppers’ call agents. A translation service is available upon request. People can also pass on information anonymously via the UK Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111, or via the Anonymous Online Form.

For further information please contact the Crimestoppers Press Office on 0208 835 3737 or email press.office@crimestoppers-uk.org