Northumberland drug dealer who fled to Spain due to be sentenced after successful extradition

A drug dealer who fled to Spain in a desperate attempt to evade jail has been extradited.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:46 pm

Fugitive Aaron Stephenson headed for the sunny shores of Marbella last August, just two days before he was due to be sentenced for conspiring to supply Class A drugs and possessing criminal property.

Almost a year after he absconded, Stephenson, 28, has landed safely back on UK soil and appeared before a Crown Court judge following a successful extradition process.

Stephenson, of Newbiggin, was arrested on Valentine’s Day in 2018 alongside his cousins Wesley and McKenzie Stephenson and their grandparents Dianne Wright and Philip Stephenson following planned raids to dismantle their illicit drugs business.

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Aaron Stephenson.

The family was convicted in March 2020 for their respective roles in selling highly addictive substances, including cocaine, which was often mixed with dangerous and sometimes carcinogenic chemicals such as worming powder and laxatives to maximise profits.

But rather than face the courts, Stephenson fled to Spain where he spent a further six months actively evading arrest and mocking law enforcement on social media.

However, what he didn’t know was that an international operation had been set up following his departure with a taskforce from Northumbria Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) determined to bring him back.

On February 19 this year, they did just that with the help of Spanish authorities. Stephenson was located in Alicante and arrested and placed in custody until the courts confirmed his return.

Chief Inspector Amanda Dumighan, of Northumbria Police, said: “It is great news that Aaron Stephenson has been brought back to the North East where he will be sentenced for his offending.

“This man caused misery and instead of facing the courts he fled to Spain thinking he could live out his days avoiding justice.

“Stephenson was given a number of opportunities to do the right thing and hand himself in but chose to ignore the serious offences hanging over him and I am pleased this has come to a positive end.

“I would like to thank all of the officers from Northumbria Police who contributed to this ongoing operation, as well as all of our colleagues from the National Crime Agency and Spanish counterparts. Without their valuable assistance this we might not have seen Stephenson appear in a UK court for some time.”

Stephenson appeared before a judge at Newcastle Crown Court today (Friday) and was remanded in custody until September 16, where he is due to be sentenced alongside the rest of his family.

Back in March, they were convicted of the following:

- Diane Wright, 61, and Philip Stephenson, 67, both of Woodhorn Road, Newbiggin, were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possessing criminal property.

- Aaron Stephenson, 27, of Woodhorn Road, Newbiggin, was also found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possessing criminal property.

- Wesley Stephenson, 24, of Storey Crescent, Newbiggin, was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of Class A and C drugs.

- Mckenzie Stephenson, 23, of Aidan Grove, Ellington, and his girlfriend Centaine Armstrong, 22, of Widdrington, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs. Armstrong has already appeared before the courts and been sentenced to 18 months suspended for 18 months.

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