A fugitive suspected British drug smuggler swam from Spain to Gibraltar to hand himself over to police after seeing an appeal for information about his whereabouts on a UK television programme.
Jason Waterman, who fled Britain 18 months ago after he was linked to the seizure of cocaine with an estimated street value of £1.2 million (€1.36 million), presented himself at a Gibraltar police station dripping wet carrying only a bag full of soaking clothes.
Waterman, who goes by various nicknames including “Jumbo” and “Jugs” on account of his unusually large ears, refused to admit how he had managed to enter Gibraltar, but did confess he did not pass over the British overseas territory’s border with Spain.
The alleged cocaine trafficker is reported to have decided to do the right thing after seeing his mugshot on the BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow programme, a daytime television show broadcast in the UK.
Waterman is believed to have been present at Bagby Airfield when a light aircraft arrived from the Netherlands in October 2015 carrying 7kgs of cocaine. Police said they witnessed a man believed to be Waterman running away from the scene.
The pilot of the plane was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs into the UK, but was later found not guilty.
The UK’s National Crime Agency is now seeking Waterman’s extradition back to Britain.
Brian Shaw, North East Operations Manager of the NCA, commented: “It might sound like a cushy number, sitting around watching Crimewatch Roadshow on a Monday morning, but life as a fugitive is hard and stressful.
“The NCA first issued an appeal for Waterman in London nearly a year ago. Clearly something about the new appeal made him crack.
“To everyone else feeling the stress of being on the run, I would say we are patient people, we keep the pressure on, and we never stop looking for you.”
Waterman, originally from North London, is said to be an enthusiastic fan of martial arts and boxing, and is believed to have been a member of various gyms before fleeing the UK.
Southern Spain has long been a favoured bolthole for British criminals on the run from law enforcement authorities, earning the region the nickname the “Costa del Crime”.
Gareth Bryan Edwards, who was said to be “armed and very dangerous” before he was apprehended, was wanted in connection with a string of violent robberies in Britain.
Edwards was found to be carrying a small amount of cocaine when he was detained, and is said to have supported himself by selling drugs while on the run from police.