Alex Male, 29, of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, is alleged to have been a regional distributor of class A drugs across the south west of England, buying and selling them using an EncroChat encrypted communications network.
He was detained at Lisbon Airport on Saturday after arriving on a flight from Turkey where he had been refused entry, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA), which added Male to its most wanted appeal in January.
NCA international liaison officer Phil Robinson said: “Male naively believed he could travel across international borders using fraudulent documentation and remain undetected by law enforcement.
“But he underestimated the vigilance and expertise of the Turkish border police, which enabled the Portuguese authorities to act.
“Any arrest of a fugitive is a fantastic result, even more so since Male had only recently been added to our most wanted list.
“He is wanted in connection with dangerous crimes, which have a devastating impact on communities, so I’m delighted he has been caught.
“We continue to work with our international partners to close the net around fugitives, no matter where they are.”
Male is accused of conspiracy to supply cocaine and ketamine, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire a firearm as part of his drug dealing activity between April and June 2020.
He had been on the run after failing to follow to the bail restrictions imposed following his arrest.
He was previously on the run in the Marbella area of Spain before moving to Portugal.
Male remains in custody and will now face extradition proceedings.
Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins of the South West regional organised crime unit (SW ROCU) said: “Male will now be returned to the criminal justice system in the UK to face the charges he ran away from.
“This is an example of international law enforcement working together to ensure justice can be done and demonstrating there is nowhere safe to hide.”