Police link arrested Hells Angel to drugs and murder

Police link arrested Hells Angel to drugs and murder

Some of the assets seized from Hells Angels gang member Luke Cook and his Thai wife displayed at the Royal Thai Police Office in Bangkok during a news briefing on Tuesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Some of the assets seized from Hells Angels gang member Luke Cook and his Thai wife displayed at the Royal Thai Police Office in Bangkok during a news briefing on Tuesday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Police have drawn a connection between an Australian Hells Angels gang member arrested for alleged smuggling of crystal methamphetamine and the murder of a compatriot found buried in Chon Buri province in 2015.

Their suspicions were outlined at a news conference at police headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday.

It follows the apprehension of Luke Joshua Cook, 34, and his Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 40, at Suvarnabhumi airport on Saturday. They were arriving back from Australia.

Pol Lt Gen Weerapong Chuenpakdi, an acting special advisor, said Mr Cook was suspected of receiving US$10 million from the late Wayne Schneider, 37, in Pattaya in early 2015 to buy 500 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or "ice", in international waters and store it in Thailand for later smuggling into Australia.

Mr Cook had bought a yacht named Jomandy, which he allegedly used to pick up the drugs in international waters off the Eastern Seabord in the early morning of June 22, 2015.

On the way back to the Ocean Marina in Sattahip district of Chon Buri province, the yacht was spotted by a patrol boat. When the patrol boat's searchlight lit up the yacht, a man was seen dropping bags of what were believed to be drugs into the sea, offshore from where Chon Buri and Rayong province adjoin, Pol Lt Gen Weerapong said.

"Later in the morning of June 22, 2015, villagers found four yellow animal feed sacks marked with red Chinese characters on Mae Ramphueng beach of tambon Ban Phe in Muang district of Rayong," Pol Lt Gen Weerapong said.

"The sacks actually contained 50.45kg of 'ice'. So, it is believed that the 'ice' found on Mae Ramphueng beach was smuggled by Mr Cook and his associates."

After the drug delivery failed Schneider had demanded Mr Cook return the money, according to police. Schneider was murdered and his body was found buried in Sattahip district in November 2015.

Police sought warrants for the arrest of Mr Cook and his wife from the Rayong provincial court last month.

Both Schneider and Mr Cook were members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, Pol Lt Gen Weerapong said. Schneider was outwardly a fitness club businessman who had recently arrived in Thailand then. Mr Cook and his wife were in the business of importing, selling and renting yachts.

Police searched many properties on Sunday connected with Mr Cook and his wife and seized and froze assets worth about 30 million baht  - including three condominiums in Pattaya, luxury cars and motorcycles, guns, cash and yachts.

Pol Lt Gen Weerapong said the case also involved American Tyler Joseph Fulton Sheen Gerard, 23, and four other people arrested in 2015 for the abduction and murder of Schneider.

They were believed to be major drug dealers, part of a worldwide network, he said.


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