After being extradited from Thailand to the UK, an organized crime boss who had been on the run since 2018 was sentenced to prison.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) reported that Richard Wakeling, 55, of Brentwood, Essex, returned to the country on Thursday evening and appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday afternoon. It also stated that he was sentenced to 11 years in prison right away after being found guilty while he was away.
Wakeling, according to the NCA, was convicted of attempting to smuggle amphetamine suspended in liquid worth £8 million in 2016, but he left the country just before his 2018 trial.
Specialist officers from the extradition unit of the Joint International Crime Centre accompanied him back to Heathrow.
According to the NCA, Wakeling was detained by Royal Thai Police officials in a Bangkok garage in February 2023 when he went to pick up his repaired vehicle.
He had a passport bearing a different name when he was apprehended.
After Border Force officials prevented a truck from boarding a train traveling through the Channel Tunnel on April 9, 2016, the NCA launched their investigation into Wakeling’s organized crime cell.
The drugs were in plastic barrels inside the vehicle.
The driver was delivering furniture from Italy when he made a stop in Ternat, Belgium, where phone records revealed he had been instructed to pick up the drugs.
According to the NCA, Wakeling organized the entire importation. He coordinated with Dutch drug suppliers and two other UK criminals to plan the trip.
Officers established the criminal organization had planned six other importations prior to the 2016 seizure.
Wakeling ran away in 2018, and the NCA appealed for assistance in locating him.
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.
“This case highlights the NCA’s global reach and that we will do everything we can to ensure those who commit serious and organised crime are held accountable for their actions, no matter how long it takes or how far they flee.”