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#293198 - 19th Feb 2009 7:35pm Venezuela drug bust dad was on the run

A MERSEYSIDE dad locked up in a Venezuelan jail over a million pound drugs bust is on the run from police.

Paul Makin, 31, is being held in South America alongside his ex-wife, Laura Makin, also 31, from Bebington, and her four children.

It is alleged they were caught at the airport in Margarita with more than 20kgs of cocaine – worth an estimated £1.2m – stuffed into secret compartments in suitcases.

Libby and Lucy, two-year-old twins, seven-year-old Megan, and eight year-old Jack are being looked after by local social services and have been put with a Venezuelan foster family.

Their frantic family are now trying to bring them home.

Today, Mrs Makin’s mother, Catherine Webb, who also lives in Wirral, said: "We are going through hell."

Her husband, Kenneth, said: "We’re all so worried. We’ve been hammering the embassy trying to get the kids back but we’re getting nowhere.

"It’s difficult because we’re not being told anything. We just need to make sure those little ones are ok."

The ECHO can reveal that a warrant is out for Mr Makin’s arrest in Merseyside.

He is alleged to have threatened a man with what a machete in Prenton last September and was due to stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court on February 9.

But he, his ex-wife and the children, were on the holiday island of Margarita, off Venezuela.

It is understood the family went on holiday three weeks ago. They were only supposed to be gone for a week.

Mrs Makin had the twins to her ex-husband after they met in a Birkenhead nightclub three years ago. Her elder children are from a previous relationship.

They were all stopped by drugs officers from the Margarita Bolivian National Guard as they were about to board Thompson First Choice flight 086 to Gatwick on Monday.

According to sources in Venezuela, three suitcases were seized and searched and found to contain false bottoms. Packed inside, local police claim, were blocks of white powder that have now been sent off for tests but are thought to be cocaine.

Colonel Luis Gustavo Graterol Caraballo, from the drug unit, said his troops were tipped off by intelligence staff in the National Guard.

A court remanded the couple but no formal charges have been brought.

A friend of Mrs Makin’s today said: "She is such a quiet person, just a normal mum. She is definitely not someone who uses drugs.

"When we heard we were amazed that they think she is involved in anything like this.

"Laura and Paul’s relationship was stormy. He wasn’t good for her at all. The police were round at the house all the time. We can’t even believe she would have gone on holiday with him.

"They split up and she moved out of her old house in October and we thought it was a new start for her.

"This has shocked us all."

Today Brian Kenny, chair of governors at Tranmere’s Mersey Park primary where Megan and Jack attend, said: "I will be speaking to the local authority immediately about this. This seems to be an horrific situation and above all else our first priority is doing all we can to address the welfare of the children."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are aware of the detention of two British nationals at Margarita Airport in Venezuela on February 16.

"Four accompanying minors are in the care of Venezuelan social services.

"We are providing appropriate consular assistance."

There are believed to be 1,500 foreign nationals in Venezuelan prisons – most on suspicion of trying to smuggle drugs.

The average sentence handed down to those convicted is eight years.

Venezuela’s jails are said to be notorious for overcrowding, extortion, riots and beheadings.

According to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory watchdog group, more than 400 prisoners are killed behind bars every year.


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#293366 - 20th Feb 2009 10:30am Re: Venezuela drug bust dad was on the run [Re: ]

FOUR Wirral children at the centre of a Latin American drugs bust were reunited with their family last night.

But their parents, Paul and Laura Makin, remained in custody facing charges of trying to smuggle 24kg of cocaine into the UK.

Mr Makin, 31, and his wife, were arrested on Monday at the International Airport of Santiago Mariño in Porlamar, Venezuela, while en route to London.

But their two-year-old twins, Libby and Lucy, were taken into care.

They were joined by Mrs Makin’s children from a previous relationship Jack, eight, and Megan, seven.

Shortly after News of the arrest broke yesterday, members of Mrs Makin’s family and from Jack and Megan’s father’s family flew out to be with the children.

The Makins, who are said to be on the cusp of filing for divorce, had allegedly hidden more than 23.7kg of cocaine under the children’s clothes.

Narcotics detectives say three of their four suitcases contained false bottoms that were stuffed with the Class A drug.

The authorities reportedly searched the couple’s bags after receiving a tip-off.

Efforts were being made last night by Merseyside solicitor, John Wheate, to bring the children home.

Mr Wheate, who also represents jailed Liverpool FC fan Michael Shields, said: “I will be doing everything I can to assist the family through this ordeal.

“The first step is to get to the bottom of it and have the children repatriated.”

The family had been on a luxury holiday on the Caribbean island of Margarita.

Merseyside Police also revealed yesterday Mr Makin, of Woodchurch, Birkenhead, was on the run and wanted for affray and possession of an offensive weapon.

A Crown Court warrant was issued on February 9 when he failed to appear at Liverpool Crown Court.

But, speaking at a family home, one of his uncles last night protested Makin’s innocence

“All that stuff with the police is a lot of nonsense. That stuff with the machete has never been proved. He just forgot to sign on before leaving, that’s all.”

The uncle, who did not wish to be named, said his nephew was in the army’s 22nd Cheshire Regiment until around four years ago.

He added: “He can be a bit of a sod, but that’s all.”

The family had been on a First Choice package holiday and were arrested minutes before they were due to board a flight home.

Other relatives described their shock at the allegations. Makin’s mother, Chris Makin, said: “I am in the dark. I am just interested in getting the children back in the country.

“The press seem to know a damn sight more than me. I’m really close to the kids – they spend weekends at my house.”

And speaking from her semi-detached home in Moreton, Mr Makin’s grandmother, Margaret Makin, added: “This has shattered me. I knew he was going on holiday but the first I heard about this was when a relative rang this morning saying ‘Have you got a Paul and Laura Makin?’. I said yes, and they told me the News.”

Jack and Megan both attend Mersey Park Primary School and are on their half term break.

Cllr Brian Kenny, chair of governors at the school said last night: “It is obviously a very traumatic situation for the children – the whole situation sounds really horrific.”

“Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the allegation, my main concern is for the welfare of the four children involved and the two attending our school.

“I want the children in good hands and to be looked after.”

It also emerged yesterday they had tried to patch up their relationship by going on the Jeremy Kyle daytime TV show.

A Foreign Office spokesman last night said Embassy staff were providing help but “family members are now in attendance”.

He added: “Embassy consular staff have travelled to Margarita Island and are keeping in close touch with the authorities and those detained and are monitoring the welfare of the children.

“We can confirm we were in touch promptly with family in the UK and are keeping them fully informed.”

It is thought the couple will appear in court in the next 30 days.



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