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. THE DAILY POST