A fugitive British drug trafficking kingpin has been arrested in Thailand after managing to stay on the run for nearly three years.
Jonathon “Mr Big” Moorby fled to Thailand in June 2014 while he was awaiting trial in the UK over a conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamines worth an estimated £1 million (€1.18 million).
A court found him guilty in his absence and sentenced him to 15 years in jail after police found huge quantities of drugs at his home in North Yorkshire.
Police suspect Moorby continued to run his criminal enterprise from abroad after buying a one-way ticket out of the UK, using trusted lieutenants back in Britain to coordinate a string of drugs and money laundering plots.
He is even suspected to have ordered his underlings to launch an arson attack on his estranged wife’s home.
In July last year, the drugs gang boss was ordered to repay £575,860 of his ill-gotten gains at a proceeds of crime hearing, again in his absence.
Police finally caught up with Moorby after following his son to Thailand after receiving a tip-off he was flying out to visit his father.
Officers arrested Moorby on the island of Koh Mudsum, close to the island of Koh Samui where he was staying.
Thai police charged him with holding a fake passport and entering the country illegally, but he will now be extradited back to the UK.
“The Royal Thai Police coordinated with the British Embassy and Interpol to trace Jonathon Moorby for escaping an arrest warrant in England,” the Thailand Narcotics Suppression Bureau said.
“He was traced to a property on Ko Samui. He was not there and the next day on Monday was arrested on Ko Mudsom, south of Ko Samui which is about 20 minutes away by speedboat.”
Speaking with reporters, Major General Soontorn Chalermkiat of Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Police said: “We were asked by the British embassy’s Interpol representative to arrest the suspect. He is a key drugs trafficking suspect in Britain, dealing in cocaine and ice [crystal methamphetamine].”
Prior to his most recent conviction, Moorby was sentenced to six years in jail in 2004 for conspiracy to supply class A drugs after police seized cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis worth more than £250,000.
He was then jailed for a further three years in 2011 after detectives discovered a bag containing drugs worth an estimated £115,000 in his apartment.
Moorby’s arrest comes as Thai authorities are attempting to clean up the image of the country, which has developed a reputation as a favoured bolthole for criminals fleeing authorities in the west.
Thai officials have recently launched a publicity campaign with the slogan “Good guys in, bad guys out”.