Irishman for extradition in drug probe

AUSTRALIAN police have sought the extradition of an Irishman alleged to be part of a gang that planned to manufacture about €74m worth of crystal methamphetamine.

James Henry Kinch who was born in Ireland, but has spent most of his life in Britain, is currently being held in Bangkok, Thailand. He is thought to have been a middle man between the Netherlands-based gang and a senior Australian police figure. That criminal investigator, Mark Standen, an assistant director with the New South Wales Crime Commission, was yesterday charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a controlled substance, conspiracy to supply a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Another man, Bakhos Jalalaty — alleged to be Standen’s co-conspirator — is also charged with similar offences. A further 12 men have been arrested in the Netherlands as part of the investigation. The Australian authorities and the crime commission had been jointly investigating Standen’s alleged involvement in the syndicate since July 2007.

It is alleged the gang planned to hide more than 600kg of pseudoephedrine in a shipment of rice, enough to make 500kg of the drug with a street value of at least A$120 million (€74m). That ship was to arrive from Pakistan on April 25, or ANZAC day — the day Australia and New Zealand commemorates its soldiers who fought at Gallipoli during World War 1. The investigation is part of an overall Australian police operation called Octans which involves work with authorities in the Netherlands, Pakistan, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Portugal.

Kinch, 49, is understood to have served time in a Manchester prison for armed robbery.


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