UK drug crime boss in jail after fleeing to Thailand

By AFP   June 3, 2023 | 01:43 am PT
UK drug crime boss in jail after fleeing to Thailand
Richard Wakeling was arrested by Thai police in Bangkok in February. Photo by AFP
A British drugs kingpin has been extradited home from Thailand to serve a lengthy jail term after spending years on the run, U.K. police said on Saturday.

Richard Wakeling, 55, fled Britain in 2018 after he attempted with Dutch accomplices to smuggle £8 million ($10 million) of liquid amphetamine from Belgium into the U.K. in 2016.

He was sentenced in absentia to 11 years and placed on the "most wanted" watch list of the British National Crime Agency (NCA).

He had been living in the Thai seaside resort town of Hua Hin for years with a fake Irish passport, according to Thailand's police force, which arrested him in Bangkok in February.

He was escorted back to London by specialist U.K. extradition officers on Thursday and immediately jailed after a brief court appearance, according to the NCA.

"Richard Wakeling thought he could avoid facing justice by leaving the U.K.," NCA regional head of investigations Jacque Beer said.

"This case highlights the NCA's global reach, and that we will do everything we can to ensure those who commit serious and organized crime are held accountable for their actions, no matter how long it takes or how far they flee."

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