07 November 2005
A New Zealander being held in Thailand for allegedly attempting to smuggle 40kg of heroin left Blenheim about 15 years ago.
Kerry Graeme Mitchell, 49, could be sentenced to death if convicted.
With a street value of $1000 a gram, the heroin haul would be worth $40 million in New Zealand.
Mitchell, a former Marlborough Boys' College student who is believed to have left Marlborough in the late 1980s or early '90s, and his Thai wife Sangvan Newton were arrested on Friday.
Earlier in the day, two Hong Kong nationals - Leung Chun Yu, 20, and Barry Chung Oi Fung, 42 - were detained with the heroin and later implicated Mitchell, Lieutenant General Wacharaphon Prasanrachakit of the Thai police said.
The four are being held in a Bangkok jail. Thailand has some of the most draconian drug laws in Asia and scores of foreigners are on death row for drug-related convictions.
Mitchell also allegedly held a fake British passport under the name Ian James Newton, Mr Wacharaphon said.
Authorities believe the four were planning to ship the heroin - bought in Myanmar - via a private yacht to Hong Kong and Australia for sale.