| 13.5°C Dublin

tracked down Britain's most wanted woman arrested in Spain by elite police unit that captured 'The Monk'

Sarah Panitzke was nabbed by the same unit that arrested Hutch last August near his hideaway in Fuengirola

Close

Sarah Panitzke

Sarah Panitzke

Sarah Panitzke

Britain's most wanted woman has been arrested in Spain by the same specialist Madrid-based unit that captured fugitive gang boss Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch last August.

Sarah Panitzke (47) who is suspected of laundering £1 billion in a mobile phone VAT fraud was arrested while walking her dog in Santa Barbara village, located between Barcelona and Valencia, after nearly a decade on the run.

The privately-educated university graduate, who is the only woman ever to be put on Britain’s most wanted list, has been wanted since 2013 over the massive fraud operation in which she played a key role.

She was part of 16-strong criminal gang that bought mobile phones abroad without VAT then resold them in the UK.

Close

Sarah Panitzke (47) has been arrested in Spain

Sarah Panitzke (47) has been arrested in Spain

Sarah Panitzke (47) has been arrested in Spain

Panitzke was said to have travelled to places like Dubai, Spain and Andorra to “clean” the money the gang had stolen.

She is the last of the gang to be caught, with other members collectively sentenced to 135 years in jail, Britain's National Crime Agency said.

However, Panitzke, who is originally from Fulford, near York, disappeared in May 2013 before being convicted and sentenced in absentia to eight years behind bars.

She is now reportedly in a prison near Madrid ahead of her expected extradition after being held on Sunday in an operation carried out by the Civil Guard Central Operative Unit's Fugitive Task Force.

This is the same unit that arrested 'The Monk' Hutch last August near his hideaway in the Costa del Sol resort of Fuengirola.

It was later revealed how members of the Madrid-based fugitive task force had worked round the clock to track him down.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The head of the elite team which led the operation to find and arrest him told how Hutch gave away his hideout to police by venturing on to his Costa del Sol balcony for some mid-morning fresh air.

Close

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch being arrested by police in Spain

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch being arrested by police in Spain

Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch being arrested by police in Spain

It enabled detectives to obtain his photo and use it to confirm Hutch was in a town centre apartment block in Fuengirola, in an area they had under surveillance.

Two days later Hutch was arrested as he sat down at a nearby restaurant for an evening meal.

Hutch had flown to Malaga from his Lanzarote home and headed for the Costa del Sol in March. This was shortly before Ireland issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Hutch, dressed casually in sandals, shorts and a T-shirt, was arrested last August 12 by undercover police after a four-month investigation led by the Civil Guard's central operative unit's fugitive task force.

He was later extradited to Ireland to face a murder charge in relation to the Regency Hotel shooting in 2016.

Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that Panitzke could face 17 years' incarceration because her non-payment of a £2.4 million confiscation order meant further time had been added to her prison sentence.

In 2016, when she first became Britain's 'Most Wanted Woman' her father, who died in April 2020, told the Daily Mail it was a “shock”.

Her brother Leon told Vice magazine last year “the whole saga had been incredibly difficult for everyone involved”.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Privacy