- An Australian man and his Thai wife have been sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a half-ton of crystal meth into Thailand.
- Luke Joshua Cook, 35, and Kanyarat Wechapitak, 40, were arrested at Bangkok airport in December last year over the plot to smuggle more than $US216 million ($AU300 million) worth of drugs through Thailand and then into Australia.
- High-profile cases of Australian nationals trying to move drugs out of China have grown in recent years.
An Australian man and his Thai wife have been sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle over $US216 million ($AU300 million) worth of drugs into Thailand, which imposes very strict punishments for drug-related offenses.
Luke Joshua Cook, 35, and his wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 40, were arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport in December last year over a plot to smuggle half a ton of crystal meth into Thailand and then into Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Cook, said to be a member of the Hells Angels biker gang, has been accused of masterminding the plot to move the drugs from China to Thailand by boat. The shipment was dumped overboard after being spotted by Thai authorities and about 110 pounds of drugs washed ashore at Mae Ramphueng beach near Pattaya in June 2015.
Thai authorities claim Cook was paid $US10 million by Hells Angels for the drug shipment. Police confiscated several assets, including luxury cars, as part of their investigation, the Herald said.
An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman told the Herald that the government was providing consular services to an Australian in Thailand, but declined to comment specifically on Cook.
Several high-profile cases of drug trafficking in Asia at the hands of Australian nationals have been reported in recent years. Thirty-nine-year-old Queensland native Schapelle Corby served nine years in prison in Indonesia after drugs were found inside her bag at Bali airport. She returned to Australia in May last year.
And a group of nine Australians, referred to as the “Bali Nine” were convicted of trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia into Australia in 2005. Two of the group’s leaders were executed by firing squad in 2015, while the others were sentenced to life in prison.
However, just this week the Bali provincial correction division told Fairfax media that Bali Nine member Renae Lawrence will be released and free to return home on November 21.
The 41-year-old will become the first member of the Bali Nine drug trafficking group to be released, more than 12 years after she was put behind bars.
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