GOT HIM; EXCLUSIVE Scotland's most wanted crime boss arrested inpounds 150million swoop after TWELVE years on the run.
SCOTLAND'S most wanted crime boss has been arrested after 12 years on the run and charged with laundering pounds 150million of drugs money.
Ruthless Walter "Wattie" Douglas - nicknamed the Tartan Pimpernel - was caught trying to fly into Ibiza on a false passport. Officers believe he is the mastermind behind a money laundering operation in Marbella.
Last night, they described Douglas, 45, as "the principal narcotics dealer in Scotland". The crime lord has been on Interpol's most wanted list since 1994 - after skipping bail in Holland over a pounds 60million drugs charge.
In 1990 he was quizzed by police over the gun death of Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson in Marbella. The gangster now faces the rest of his life behind bars.
Last night, a police source said: "There are three massive money-laundering operations in the Marbella area and Douglas is believed to be involved in one of those."
Douglas, of Ruchill, Glasgow, was arrested in Ibiza on Friday. Police swooped after he got off a flight using a fake passport with the name William Baird McDonald.
It is one of two aliases he uses, the other being Terence Tompkins.
A judge in Marbella - a popular haven for British criminals - issued a warrant for his arrest.
He is accused of masterminding a massive money-laundering operation in southern Spain involving "millionaire property and financial investments".
He will be taken to the Spanish mainland amid strict security to face trial.
Last night, Spanish police called Douglas "the principal narcotics dealer in his own country".
A spokesman at the National Police Headquarters in Madrid said: "We are still gathering information on this suspect.
"He was using a false passport when he entered Spain and we are still not sure of his date or place of birth. He is wanted on allegations of major money laundering."
A police source in Ibiza added: "We know he has been in South Africa in recent years and could have flown in from there via Madrid or Barcelona.
"He has flown from there to Ibiza and Majorca on several occasions in the past.
"He was stopped by police at the airport who suspected he was travelling on a false passport.
"Checks were carried out and that proved to be the case.
"This is an internal Spanish matter at this stage and has nothing to do with extradition to Holland, the UK or any other country where he is wanted.
"At this stage he is simply being returned to Marbella, where there is a warrant outstanding in relation to this money-laundering scam."
Douglas has repeatedly escaped justice in Scotland, Holland and Spain.
His slippery dodges earned him the nickname Tartan Pimpernel, after the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel who saved aristocrats in the French Revolution.
In 1994 he was sentenced to four years in prison by a Dutch court after masterminding one of the world's biggest cannabis deals.
A staggering 250 kilos of the drug was seized on board a ship.
A move was made to extradite Douglas back to Scotland to face drugs, fraud and theft charges.
At the time, the Crown Office said: "He is in custody in the Netherlands on another matter and nothing can be done until that matter is disposed of."
But Douglas's lawyer appealed against the Dutch sentence, claiming police used illegal phone taps to trap him. He was then freed while his three partners in the infamous Delta Crime Syndicate - operators of a drug cartel stretching across Morocco, Spain and Holland - were caged.
Douglas then fled to Spain - earning his entry on Europe's most wanted list.
Dutch investigators tracked him down in June 1998 but Spanish authorities bungled the extradition order. He was released after spending just a few weeks in Malaga's notorious Alhaurin de le Torre jail.
Douglas worked as a milkman and car dealer in Glasgow in the 80s before turning to crime.
He built up a car and plant export business but soon used it to smuggle drugs into Europe. He fled Glasgow for Holland in the late 80s fearing he would be targeted by other dealers.
Douglas set up a Dutch drugs empire but soon made enemies and it was reported he was executed by rival drug barons in 1991.
His bullet-ridden body was said to have been found in an Amsterdam canal.
But Douglas was alive and well and even posed for pictures on the banks of the canal, declaring: "Look, no bullet holes. News of my death has been greatly exaggerated."
Last night, a former associate of Douglas's in Glasgow said: "That just typified Wattie. He always was a cocky wee b******. He was the original Teflon man - nothing ever stuck.
"Some of the guys nicknamed him the milkman - not because of his old job but because he always delivered.
"This time the Spanish cops and courts had better be ultra-careful that they have everything water tight. Leave any loophole and that little weasel will wriggle through it.
"If they do nail him, there will not be many drowning their sorrows. There will be a good few who will be raising their glasses because, while he has been in Spain, he has been in the frame for murder and grassing other guys up.
"This Tartan Pimpernel image may sound sexy but wee Wattie is anything but."
Douglas was a prime suspect when Charlie Wilson was gunned down in Marbella over a drug deal in April 1990.
He was interrogated by murder squad detectives but was released without charge.
The fact hewas a suspect made Douglas deeply unpopular with London underworld figures who, like him, had fled to Spain to escape justice. His other associates included South Londoner Tony White, who was acquitted of the Brinks Mat robbery, and major Scots drug dealer and fraudster Brian Doran.
Last March Irish crime boss Brian Wright, who is accused of running a drug-smuggling and race-fixing empire, was arrested in Marbella.
Douglas is widely believed to have tipped off customs agents about Wright's whereabouts.
Last year Douglas bought a pounds 1.5million yacht to enable him to outrun Russian and Colombian drugs death squads.
ONE of the legendary Great Train Robbers of 1963, he was shot dead outside his Marbella home in 1990.
Douglas was questioned about the murder but was never charged.
Another Costa gangster, Tony Grant, was also quizzed but disappeared after faking his own death.
LEGENDARY London gangster who was cleared of the Brinks Mat robbery in 1984.
He became an associate of both Doran and Douglas.
The friendship between them is thought to have soured when Douglas was linked to Wilson's murder.
BECAME a deadly rival of Douglas after his own arrest last year in a probe into a pounds 300million smuggling racket.
Wright accused Douglas of grassing him when he was arrested at a hideaway near Marbella.
Associates claimed Douglas made a deal with police.
HOOKED up with Douglas in the late 80s as he extended his drugs empire to southern Spain.
The former teacher went there as a travel rep but his gift for languages soon saw him translating deals for Douglas' drugs barons. Jailed in 1995 for nine years but is now free.
What the Spanish police say
'He is the principal narcotics dealer in Scotland..he was using a false passport when he entered Spain and we are still not sure of his date or place of birth. He is wanted on allegations of major money laundering'
Nicked: Tartan Pimpernel Walter Douglas is charged with laundering drugs cash' Caught: Douglas was held at Ibiza airport after flying in with fake passport' Forgery: Douglas used a fake passport' Boasts: Douglas posed at Dutch canal to prove rivals had not shot him
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Sep 17, 2006|
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