BANGKOK: A British drug trafficker convicted over a US$1.3 million narcotics ring has been arrested in Thailand after years on the run, police said Tuesday, the latest example of global underworld figures using the kingdom as a bolthole.
Jonathan Moorby, 47, was detained by Thai police on the popular southern tourist island of Koh Samui on Monday following an investigation by British detectives.
He has a string of previous drug offences to his name but went on the run in 2014 shortly before an English court sentenced him to nearly 20 years in jail in absentia for conspiracy to supply more than £1 million (US$1.3 million) of cocaine and amphetamines.
“We were asked by the British embassy’s Interpol representative to arrest the suspect,” Major General Soontorn Chalermkiat of Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Police, told reporters.
“He is a key drugs trafficking suspect in Britian, dealing in cocaine and ice (crystal methamphetamine),” he said, adding that he had been found in possession of a fake Belgian passport.
British prosecutors described him as a major drugs kingpin in the country’s northeast, according to British media that covered the trial.
Thailand has long been a favoured destination for wanted criminals from across the world, something the police have vowed to end, adopting the official slogan: “Good guys in, bad guys out”.
While they have had some notable successes, western law enforcement officials say high levels of official corruption and weak local law enforcement continue to make the country an attractive bolthole.
The country is also a major trafficking hub for narcotics from the Golden Triangle, the world’s second largest drug producing region after Latin America.
Huge quantities of heroin and methamphetamine are produced in the triangle — the border regions of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and southwestern China — with record seizures across Asia having little effect on supply or street prices.
Thai police said Moorby would be prosecuted for illegal entry and using a false passport before being extradited.