James Mulvey, aged 40, from Solihull, suspected of heading up an international drug and money laundering gang got a rude awakening when armed police stormed his Lithuanian hide-out – and arrested him in his pants.

Mulvey was detained under a European Arrest Warrant in connection with a huge drugs haul uncovered in Belgium 10 years ago.

He was one of six people arrested – including a man and woman from Wythall – as West Midlands Police officers joined National Crime Agency (NCA) colleagues on raids in Birmingham, Solihull and Somerset.

He’s been questioned over the 2007 seizure drugs that saw police recover 20 kilos of cocaine, 365 kilos of cannabis and 10 kilos of phenacetin; it’s suspected the containment was destined for Ireland.

Five people were jailed in the UK in 2009 for a total of 88 years but the investigation remains live.

Mulvey was arrested by Lithuanian Police firearms officers (pictured) at a house in Kaunas; two ballistic vests were found during a search and at a separate address linked to him officers recovered a Glock pistol and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

Extradition proceedings have started to bring him back to the UK.

Investigators believe the five others – a 42-year-old woman from Somerset; a 37-year-old man from Tamworth; a 50-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman from Wythall; and a 58-year-old man from Atherstone – are involved in money laundering and VAT fraud.

A seventh person – a 66-year-old man from Solihull – has also been interviewed as part of the investigation. All six have been released while enquiries continue.

Detective Constable Derek Tinsley, from the West Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: “This was a fantastic example of several law enforcement agencies – including ones overseas – working together to tackle crime.
“About £40,000 in cash was recovered from addresses in the UK along with computers and digital devices which are now being forensically examined.

“Clearly Mr Mulvey wasn’t expecting a visit by armed police: the drugs find was a decade ago and he was living in eastern Europe but this operation shows that people we suspect are linked to crime cannot sleep easily. We could come knocking at any time.”

Adam Warnock, NCA Operations Manager, said: “The NCA’s international partnerships mean we can extend the UK’s reach overseas to combat criminal networks and the serious financial crime which props them up.

“James Mulvey has been targeted by the NCA, the West Midlands RART and HMRC as we believe he heads a crime group involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and a multi-million pound VAT fraud.”

The Mauritius Police Force and the Financial Intelligence Unit in Mauritius, who are both supporting the investigation, also searched a number of addresses. Documentation and digital devices were seized.

Over 200 officers from the NCA, West Midlands RART and HMRC were involved in the operation. Officers from West Midlands Police and the South West Regional Asset Recovery Team also provided assistance.