Hells Angels Gang Member and His Wife Sentenced to Death For Smuggling Half Ton of Crystal Meth

A Hells Angels member and his wife have been sentenced to death for trying to smuggle crystal meth worth 300 million Australian dollars ($216 million) into Thailand.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that the sentencing of Australian man Luke Cook, 34, and his Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 40, is expected to be commuted to life in prison.

The pair were detained after arriving at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in December last year. The arrest was in response to their alleged role in trying to bring half a ton of crystal methamphetamine —also known as "ice"—into Thailand onboard a yacht in 2015.

One Australian government department told 9News it was aware of the case. "The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to an Australian in Thailand," a statement confirmed, adding that no further comment could be provided at this stage.

Thai police alleged Cook obtained the drugs from a Chinese supplier in international waters before approaching Thailand in the yacht. He allegedly dumped the shipment off the coast of Chonburi province after being spotted by a law enforcement patrol boat, The Bangkok Post reported.

Lt Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said Cook's drug haul, purchased on June 22, 2015, washed ashore in four animal feed sacks later the same day. The Bangkok Post described the Australian as a member of the Pattaya Hells Angels biker gang.

Police raided nine locations tied to the couple in Pattaya and Bangkok in December last year and seized luxury cars, bikes, apartments and houses, The Bangkok Post reported. Officials said Cook and his wife ran a boat rental business called Global Marine Solutions.

Sommai Kongwisaisuk said Cook was suspected of being given $10 million (U.S.) to buy the drugs by Wayne Schneider, a notorious Hells Angels member, in early 2015.

Police officials said Schneider had demanded the money back from Cook after the failed drug smuggling operation. Schneider was kidnapped and murdered in November 2015.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Cook was convicted in 2016 of helping Australian muay thai fighter Antonio Bagnato try to flee Thailand after Bagnato was tied to Schneider's death. Cook, who escorted him to the Cambodian border, was handed a suspended jail sentence.

The fighter, 28, at one point lived above a bar owned by Cook, called Jolly's Piss Stop.

Bagnato, from Sydney, was sentenced to death by a Thai court last year for the killing, which police said was tied to a "multi-million dollar drug network," according to The West Australian. Evidence suggested Schneider had been beaten. His body was found in a shallow grave.

Luke Cook
Luke Cook, seen in this image from his Facebook profile, was arrested after arriving at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in December last year. Facebook/Luke Cook