Fugitive Stamford Hill drug dealer jailed after five years on the run

Eriberto Jimenez-Melo

Eriberto Jimenez-Melo - Credit: Archant

A drug dealer from Stamford Hill who went on the run almost five years ago is now behind bars after being arrested in Italy.

Dominican-born Eriberto Jimenez-Melo, 35, previously of Stamford Hill, was due to stand trial in 2008 for conspiring to supply cocaine following an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

He was responsible for looking after female couriers who trafficked drugs, including cocaine, to London.

The cocaine was then cut using the cutting agent phenacetin before being distributed and sold by Mr Jimenez-Melo to his local “customers”.

But he jumped bail and in his absence was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison at Ipswich Crown Court.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued.

In 2011 Jimenez-Melo was believed to have been living in Spain and an appeal for information was launched under Operation Captura, a multi-agency campaign involving SOCA, Crimestoppers and the Spanish authorities which identifies serious criminals believed to be on the run in Spain.

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This May he was arrested by Italian police in Parma, where he had been living under a false name and was extradited to the United Kingdom.

He appeared before Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday July 25 where he was given an additional sentence of one year to be served concurrently for failing to answer his bail.

Dave Allen, head of the Fugitives Unit at SOCA, said: “Jimenez-Melo evaded capture for a long time and moved around Europe using an assumed identity. This case shows how international borders will not stop SOCA from hunting down and catching fugitive criminals.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we will find you and we will bring you back to the UK to face justice.”

Operation Captura was launched in Spain in 2006, and has so far seen seven separate appeals for 65 individuals in total, with 52 of these being located and arrested.