Drug baron flown to face prison in UK after arrest in Philippines

John Halliday, who has been arrested in the Philippines
John Halliday, who has been arrested in the Philippines
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A drug baron who fled the UK before standing trial for running a £13m smuggling racket is due to arrive in the UK to face jail today less than a month after he was arrested in the Philippines.

John Halliday, from Bingley, was arrested 7,000 miles from the UK on January 23 having absconded before the start of his trial in October 2013.

He has been wanted since September 2013 and was sentenced to ten years in his absence for his role in a plot to import £13m of illegal synthetic drugs into the country from India and China.

After detectives traced him to the Philippines, the arrest request was submitted in 2014 and it took ten months to locate him on the Southeast Asian islands and arrest him.

West Yorkshire Police representatives were in the capital Manila this week to pick up Halliday, whose last known address is in Beckwithshaw, Harrogate.

He was taken back to the UK by plane and was due to arrive this afternoon. When he gets back to Britain, he will be taken immediately to prison to serve his sentence.

Detective Inspector Neil Hollis, of West Yorkshire Police’s Crime Division, said: We have now received confirmation from the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines that John Halliday will be extradited on Thursday, 19 February.”

The extradition will be the first case of its kind since an extradition treaty was signed between the Philippines and the UK in March last year.

According to a report on a local news website, Trevor Lewis, British Embassy Manila’s Deputy Head of Mission, said: “This will be the first extradition under the Treaty. We are delighted that it is being put to good use.

“We are very appreciative of the support of the NBI and Department of Justice in helping us detain and extradite Halliday.

“This sends out a clear message to UK offenders that now the Extradition Treaty is in place, the Philippines is no longer a safe haven for them to hide from justice.

“We are aware of other UK offenders living in the Philippines and will continue to work closely with NBI/PNP and DOJ to have them arrested and extradited.”

According to police, Halliday was a lead member of an organised crime group responsible for importing and supplying synthetically produced Class B drugs on a major scale.

He set up the smuggling operation in 2010 when the “legal highs” he had been selling as a sideline to his main body-building supplement business were classified as class B substances, making it illegal to import, sell, or possess them.

The drugs were imported from China and India, through Greece and Germany. Complex financial arrangements were put in place to disguise money moving from the UK to China to pay for the purchase.

Police say a network of recipients was created in the UK, meaning postal addresses were provided for the receipt of the drugs.

While Halliday remained in overall control, Paul Arabskyj, from Wakefield, provided finance and banking for the scheme. They were among 16 defendants sentenced last year.