Most wanted Essex crime boss jailed after dramatic Thailand arrest

Credit: National Crime Agency

Wakeling, who was convicted of organising drug smuggling in 2018, was tracked down to Thailand and arrested.
Richard Wakeling, from Essex, was dramatically arrested in Thailand after five years on the run. Credit: NCA

A most-wanted crime boss who went on the run from the UK for five years has been jailed after he was caught in Thailand.

Richard Wakeling, 55, from Brentwood in Essex, was on the National Crime Agency's Most Wanted List after leaving the country in January 2018 before he was due to stand trial for trying to import £8m worth of amphetamine.

He was convicted and jailed for 11 years in his absence, before a dramatic arrest in Bangkok in February.

Wakeling was extradited back to the UK, arriving on Thursday evening and immediately appearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday to start his sentence, the National Crime Agency said.

Richard Wakeling is starting an 11 year jail sentence after being convicted of organising the importation of drugs. Credit: NCA

Wakeling was found guilty of trying to import £8 million worth of amphetamine suspended in liquid in 2016, but fled the UK on the eve of his trial in 2018.

Wakeling's organised crime group had arranged for a truck at the Channel Tunnel train to carry drugs in plastic drums in April 2016.

The importation was set up by Wakeling, the NCA said, after liaising with drug suppliers in the Netherlands and two other UK offenders.

The crime group had organised six other importations prior to the seizure.

Richard Wakeling following his arrest by the Royal Thai Police Credit: National Crime Agency/PA

In February, Royal Thai Police officers arrested Wakeling at a Bangkok garage as he went to collect his car after repair.

At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a passport in another identity.

Jacque Beer, NCA regional head of investigations, said: “Richard Wakeling thought he could avoid facing justice by leaving the UK.

“The hard work of NCA officers – both here in the UK and overseas – and that of our international partners has put him behind bars for a lengthy prison sentence."

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