November 14, 2018

Perth man Luke Joshua Cook has been sentenced to death in Thailand on drug smuggling charges

(video (link is external) --- A Perth man and his Thai wife have been sentenced to death after a failed bid to smuggle $300 million worth of crystal meth into Australia.

A Perth man and his Thai wife have been sentenced to death in Thailand on drug smuggling charges.

Father-of-two Luke Joshua Cook, 35, and his wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 40, were arrested at Bangkok International Airport in December last year following a tip-off from local police, The Daily Telegraph (link is external)reported.

The pair were sentenced to death after they attempted to smuggle half a ton of crystal methamphetamine — valued at $300 million — into the country.

Their sentences are expected to be commuted to life, the paper says.
Assets linked to the pair worth $800,000 will be forfeited, and include cars, cash and property.
Police said that in 2015, Cook took a yacht into international waters off the Thai coast where he collected 500kg of meth from a Chinese trawler.

He dumped the illicit content overboard after he was spotted by a Thai patrol guard, and escaped in the early morning light.

Authorities later found four sacks containing around 50kg of meth washed ashore on Mae Ramphueng Beach in Rayong province.
Officials also said Cook was given $15 million by Hells Angels boss Wayne Schneider to store and ship the drugs to Australia.
Officials also said Cook was given $15 million by Hells Angels boss Wayne Schneider to store and ship the drugs to Australia.Source:News Corp Australia

At the time of their arrest, Police Lieutenant General Sommai Kongwisaisuk of the Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau said Cook was a Hells Angels member in Pattaya, a city 150km from Bangkok, according to Fairfax Media (link is external).

Cook was born in Duncraig, a northern suburb of Perth, and lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea as a child before returning to Western Australia as a teenager.

Cook moved to Pattaya and bought a bar in the beach resort town, which he named the Piss Stop Bar, and subsequently joined the Hells Angels.

Officials also said Cook was given $15 million by gang boss Wayne Schneider to store and ship the drugs to Australia.

Schneider demanded his money back after the operation failed, but he was then brutally murdered by gang members, with his naked body later found in a shallow Pattaya grave.

Cook was later convicted over his involvement in the murder, after trying to help former Sydney gangster Antonio Bagnato, 28, escape to Cambodia.


Bagnato was found guilty and sentenced to death by a Thai court for his role in the 2015 abduction and murder of Hells Angels gang member Wayne Schneider (pictured).
Bagnato was found guilty and sentenced to death by a Thai court for his role in the 2015 abduction and murder of Hells Angels gang member Wayne Schneider (pictured).Source:Supplied
Bagnato’s sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
Bagnato’s sentence was later commuted to life in prison.Source:AAP

Bagnato was found guilty and sentenced to death over the murder but the sentence was commuted to life in prison.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to an Australian in Thailand.

News.com.au has contacted the Australian Federal Police for comment.
The arrest is part of a wider operation in Thailand seeking to crack down on Australian-led bikie gangs in Thailand.

Several Australians have been arrested and deported in a series of raids conducted by Thai police, on criminal charges including drugs, extortion, weapons, and human trafficking.

The crackdown has a particular focus on tourist resort cities like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai, as well as the capital, Bangkok.

Raids are also being conducted in other South-East Asian countries including Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore.


Thailand - BN.

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