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Crime

Police capture British drug dealer at home in Alhaurín de la Torre

Fugitive attempted to elude agents by hiding in secret panic room

Drug dealer Mark Allan Lilley at the moment of his detention. Ampliar foto
Drug dealer Mark Allan Lilley at the moment of his detention.

Spanish police have detained one of Britain's most-wanted fugitives in a villa in Alhaurín de la Torre. Mark Allan Lilley is a 41-year-old drug dealer who had been living in Málaga province under a false identity. He had also significantly altered his appearance since his previous arrest. When police arrived at his home, the fugitive attempted to outwit agents by hiding himself in a panic room that he accessed from a secret door in a bedroom closet.

Lilley was detained for crimes that date back to 1997. According to police, an operation in Lancashire County (in North West England) pinpointed him as the head of a drug-trafficking organization.

Various narcotics were discovered in the home of his then-girlfriend, who was sentenced to five years in prison. One of Lilley’s business partners was also detained a few months later in relation to the crime. Both admitted to being involved in the transport and trafficking of drugs, and affirmed that Lilley was in charge of the network.

Lilley denied the charges. He was indicted nonetheless, and the trial began in February 2000. He was released on bail and disappeared two months later. Although the fugitive had fled, the trial continued. Lilley was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The extra room was accessed via a door hidden inside a closet in the master bedroom

When police located the fugitive in Málaga, they asked for support from the Special Security Task Force to proceed with the assault on his home in Alhaurín de la Torre. Upon entering the house, officers found four people but no trace of the fugitive, who had hidden in the panic room after being alerted by his guard dogs outside.

On close examination of the house, police discovered the extra room, which was accessed via a door hidden inside a closet in the master bedroom. After agents tried unsuccessfully to force the door open, the fugitive surrendered.

Inside the panic room, Lilley had a computer from which he could control security cameras that surrounded the outside of the house and monitor everything that was going on outside.

According to police, the British fugitive had altered his appearance and become an expert in vale tudo (anything goes) -- a Brazilian martial arts form that permits any type of contact.

The takedown was carried out by agents from a number of groups: the Fugitive Localization Team, the Costa del Sol Team for Special Response to Organized Crime, the Narcotics and International Relations Unit of the Málaga Police Department, the Special Security Operation Team, the Police Intervention Unit and Media and Air Services.