In the secluded hills above Spain’s Costa del Sol, one of Britain’s most wanted men quietly made a life for himself. David Ungi, 30, lived with three other Englishmen in a spacious three-bedroom house at the foot of the Sierra de Mijas mountains in the small town of Coin, in Malaga province.
They paid around 900 euros a month in rent for their home, where David is thought to have lived for five years. He would use a local gym and the pals would sit and smoke marijuana on their front-facing balcony, rarely speaking to anyone, neighbours said.
Every two or three months, British-plated RS4 or RSQ8 Audis, worth about £100,000, would reportedly pull up outside. The four lads with a taste for home lived on a diet of baked beans, crumpets and sweets, and shopped at a Buyrite British supermarket.
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Despite Dubai's status as the preferred bolt-hole for big-time criminals, those in the know say the Costa del Sol remains a haven for UK villains. Ungi has now been arrested but is fighting extradition back to the UK.
He and the three pals he lived with in Coin still owe the owner Buyrite British 100 Euros after stocking up on wine gums, cream eggs, Haribo sweets, dolly mixtures and fishcakes, and promising to pay later, the Mirror has reported.
In May, Ungi was arrested as he strolled into a different gym with a free day pass. He reportedly had a gun in his bag. On Tuesday he appeared in a Madrid court to oppose extradition to the UK on drugs charges. Ungi was on the National Crime Agency’s most wanted list after fleeing to Spain within 24 hours of the murder of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington in 2015 in Garston, Liverpool.
The Mirror found his Spanish hideout, where police reportedly seized a firearm and 15 kilos of cocaine, before he was also placed under formal investigation by a court in Coin for weapons possession.
More weapons including a machine gun, and drugs including 19 kilos of cannabis resin, were reportedly found during a subsequent search of their pad. The National Crime Agency said Ungi was alleged to be involved in the unlawful distribution of drugs in the Liverpool area.
A neighbour in Coin said: “They didn’t say much but honestly they came across as nice guys. I cannot believe what he’s supposed to have been involved in.
“Police descended and it was huge. I couldn’t believe what they brought out of that place. David was always really nice. None of them worked. Nobody had any idea they were wanted. He seemed to always go out with a backpack on.
“Fancy cars would pull up every now and then.”
An underworld source near Marbella told the Mirror: “If he was carrying a gun when he was arrested, there’s only one reason for that – someone was looking to iron them out. I find it strange so many British fugitives still come to Spain, and to this area. But they do. There’s still plenty of them.”
This week the Mirror revealed how ex-detective Peter Bleksley pinpointed the drug-laden superyacht town of Puerto Banus as the hideout spot for another of the UK’s most wanted men. Kevin Parle is wanted in connection with the murders in Liverpool of 16-year-old Liam Kelly in 2004 and Lucy Hargreaves, 22, in 2005.
So sure is Peter that 6ft 6in Parle is in the region, he plastered “wanted” posters with Parle’s face on all over the nearby town of Estepona.
In January, another of the UK’s most wanted criminals, Joshua Hendry, was arrested in San Pedro de Alcantara, near Marbella, after being on the run in Spain for three years.
Hendry, dubbed The Big Man and formerly of Walton, Liverpool, was a key member of a drug smuggling gang supplying in Grimsby, Lincs.
He was taken back to the UK in April and admitted supplying heroin and crack cocaine, and absconding.
Hendry was jailed for five years and three months in addition to a 10-year sentence given in 2020 when he was convicted in his absence of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The UK’s most wanted woman, fraudster Sarah Panitzke, 48, from York, was caught in Tarragona in February, while walking her dogs.
She vanished in 2013 while on trial for her part in laundering cash from a £1billion mobile phone tax scam. Last month she was jailed for eight years.
Spanish police said at the time of Ungi’s arrest that three other Britons accused of helping him stay on the run had also been detained.
At Tuesday’s hearing it emerged the UK was only seeking his extradition on the drug charges. Ungi rejected his extradition on a video link from jail on Tuesday, claiming he had lived in Spain since 2018. Spanish prosecutors saw no reason to oppose extradition.
Bleksley, star of Channel 4 reality show Hunted, spent six days in Spain last week on his mission to find Parle. He told the Mirror, speaking of Parle and his associates: “There are plenty of British wrong ’uns polluting that beautiful part of Spain. I feel sorry for the Spanish.
“From retired British folk hoovering up industrial quantities of cocaine, to gangsters and scumbags, they’re all there. There’s an international consortium of criminals operating there. Dubai is now a place for many of them but there’s still a massive presence.
“The costas are still completely and utterly a haven for British criminals.”
Sunny Marbella, and other regions nearby, remain popular with criminals looking to launder dirty money. They also lie on a lucrative narco-smuggling route from Africa to Europe. British gangsters have been fleeing to the Costa del Crime since the 1970s, when extradition agreements between the UK and Spain broke down.
Barbara Windsor’s former husband Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray twins, is credited with establishing Spain as a getaway destination.
Kenny Noye, now 75, hid in a villa near Cadiz while on the run for the 1996 road rage murder of Stephen Cameron, 21. His deserted £1.6million pad is now bolted up. The underworld source said: “Noye might have left but make no mistake about it, the younger generation are very much here.”
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