Police revive hunt for Mansfield ‘Costa criminal’

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The face of a wanted Mansfield drug trafficker is to appear on the side of a van and driven round popular expat locations in Spain where it is thought he could be hiding.

John Barton has been on the run since 2003 after he was convicted of conspiring to import £10m of heroin.

Barton was last rumoured to be on the run in the Costa del Sol region of Spain in 2008, an area which became known as the ‘Costa del Crime’ after numerous British criminals moved there in the 1970s and 80s to escape justice at home.

At the time, no extradition treaty between Britain and Spain were in place, largely because of the territorial dispute over Gibraltar.

Now the face of the fugitive will be plastered across the side of vans on digital screens, along with other wanted British criminals who could still be hiding out in Spain, and driven around areas where police suspect he may be hiding in an effort to jog people’s memories.

It is thought Barton may have links to the Fuengirola area of Spain.

Barton, who is now 59-year-old, went to Amsterdam in January 2003 with his solicitor to prepare a defence case before a trial at Nottingham Crown Court. He never returned.

The case was proved in his absence.