Britain’s most wanted cocaine fugitive was living like an African king hiding out in Ghana having married into one of the country’s most affluent families.
David McDermott, of Ormskirk, West Lancashire, was being hunted by theNational Crime Agencyand was finally arrested in an international sting operation at his home in the affluent Burma Hills area of country’s capital Accra this week.
Now theMirror Onlinecan exclusively reveal the 42-year-old had married and had a child with the daughter of the Governor of the country’s Central bank. Suspected of being a member of an organised crime syndicate from Liverpool – he has been on the run for three-years for his connection to a smuggling plot to import£71 million worth of cocaineinto the UK.
Now sources close to the investigation say McDermott was married to Ramona Wampah, daughter of the Governor of Central Bank, Dr Henry Kofi Wampah.
“David had settled well into life in Ghana,” said a source.
“He had what seemed to be an idyllic life, in a plush estate, having married into the Wampah family, in essence living like an African king.
“He and Ramona lived under the radar with their toddler but there are now serious questions as to how much information the family knew about his background.
“He plans to fight his case tooth and nail and has hired a set of lawyers to appeal his extradition.
“If he can avoid coming back to the UK, he absolutely will do it, and he’s got the money and connections to fight it.”
David’s father-in-law Dr Wampah – who also uses the name George – has been Governor of Bank of Ghana since August 2012 and has been its Director since April 16, 2009 and sets monetary policy for the nation.
But he’s come under fire in recent days and been asked to stand down amid a Microfinance Scandal that has rocked the country.
He also serves as Chairman at Ghana International Bank Public Limited Company since 2009 which has its corporate headquarters in London.
The source added: “Tracking down David has been a relentless task, the British High Commission in Accra has been working tirelessly with Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations and with the police in the UK in a joint operation that has been swift and successful.
“The Ghanaian police acting on a tip off stepped into arrest David in conjunction with British officials.
“They have since began their extradition application – no British police have been to the country yet – but if the case is granted going forward they will send out a team.”
The news of the arrest is yet another boost for the British Foreign Office in Accra who last month expedited the extradition of Arthur Simpson-Kent who was arrested in connection with the murder of Eastenders actress Sian Blake and her two sons.
McDermott’s gang is believed to be responsible for a failed smuggling operation discovered by Border Force at Tilbury Docks in May 2013, when officers seized 400kg (881Ibs) of cocaine smuggled into the country in a container of frozen Argentinian beef.
The suspected drug trafficker is also wanted for conspiracy to blackmail.
He is currently being held in custody by the Ghanaian authorities.
His arrest means that 76 out of 86 fugitives on the Captura list have now been caught.
The Operation was launched in 2006 to trace wanted criminals suspected of fleeing to Spain to avoid the British authorities.
Speaking after McDermott’s arrest, Dave Allan, head of the NCA’s international crime bureau, said: “This arrest is a result of closely working with the Ghanaian authorities, and shows our determination and success in tracking down fugitives, however far they run in an attempt to evade capture.
“McDermott was the last man outstanding in a plot to smuggle a huge quantity of cocaine which would have ended up on the streets of Merseyside. He will now be returned to the UK to stand trial.”
Lord Ashcroft, the founder and chairman of Crimestoppers, said: “With the tenth anniversary of Operation Captura on the horizon I still find it immensely encouraging that arrests continue to be made far and wide.
“While those featured as part of the campaign are suspected of being in Spain, the fact McDermott was picked up in Ghana is yet again evidence that no matter where fugitives are they will be found.”
The Tilbury Docks investigation has already resulted in six people being sentenced to a total of 64 years.