Spanish police arrested a convicted British money launderer dubbed as the United Kingdom’s most wanted woman after spending nine years on the run.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said on March 1 that authorities arrested Sarah Panitzke while she was walking her dogs in Santa Barbara, Tarragona on Feb. 27 morning.
The Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s highest criminal court, remanded Panitzke in custody as extradition proceedings to bring her back to the UK begins.
“Sarah Panitzke has been on the run for almost nine years. Given the length of time she might have thought we had stopped searching, but she remained on our radar,” NCA International Deputy Director Tom Dowdall said.
Panitze, 47 and originally from Fulford, York, disappeared in May 2013 while on trial over her part in a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) mobile phone tax scam. She was convicted and sentenced in her absence to eight years in jail.
According to Simon York from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Panitzke played “a pivotal role” in the scam, moving millions through offshore bank accounts.
The Spanish Guardia Civil tracked down Panitzke to a town near Barcelona, but she managed to escape after becoming aware of a police operation to arrest her.
Last month, authorities traced her to Santa Barbara and placed her under surveillance until her arrest.
“This should serve as a warning to others on our most wanted list — we will not rest until you are captured, no matter how long it takes,” Dowdall said.
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