‘COCAINE cruise’ pensioners Roger and Sue Clarke were arrested aftermost anniversary on and accept been accused of smuggling drugs.
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The brace had ahead been jailed Norway for trafficking 260kg of marijuana adhesive and detectives say they travelled to the country 16 times.
When not adequate a Caribbean cruise, they were the activity and body in the confined and restaurants abreast their two-storey Spanish alcazar on the Costa Blanca.
Brandy-drinking Roger, 72, would amuse his new pals with belief of yesteryear and was always on the golf course, while mum-of-three Sue, 70, enjoyed bingo active a week, yoga classes and spinning.
It was a far cry from the banal backbreaker they larboard abaft in Orpington, Kent — but all was not as it seemed.
Their enviable aerial activity has appear abolition bottomward afterwards they were arrested over declared captivation in a £2million biologic smuggling racket.
Cops activate 9kg of cocaine hidden central their accoutrements afterwards they docked in Lisbon, Portugal, on their latest cruise on December 4.
Undercover admiral swooped on the Marco Polo abode afterwards a admonition from the UK’s National Crime Agency.
The brace are now “arguidos”, or suspects, and apprehension balloon in abstracted prisons.
But could these attentive attractive pensioners absolutely be allotment of an all-embracing biologic smuggling operation?
They were spotted in September 2005 by an off-duty association administrator in Oslo handing over the biologic from abstruse compartments in their car.
Detectives disconnected calm the couple’s movements and activate they travelled to Norway 16 times amid May 2003 and August 2004.
Roger was confined for four years and nine months, and Sue a year less.
Simon Jones – The Sun
But they went on the run while on bail, giving a apocryphal abode in England while alteration their name from Button to Clarke “to abstain animus from bent associates”.
Interpol, the Europe-wide badge force, put out an active and they were eventually arrested in England in backward 2010 afterwards abundant abode changes.
They said they had been abashed of actuality followed and, while on adjourn in a Norway jail, Roger claimed addition threatened to aperture his throat.
Roger was confined for bristles years while Sue got a four-year sentence.
The “Clarkes” told pals they had been bound for smuggling cigarettes on the aback of a lorry.
For Roger it was aloof one added adventure to acquaint at the bar. It was, locals say, aloof added circuit from Billy Liar — their appellation for Roger, afterwards the atypical by Keith Waterhouse.
In the quiet streets of the expat El Raso community, 600 afar abroad in Guardamar del Segura, Alicante — area the brace busy their alcazar for £450 a ages — association acrylic a account of a man whose tales knew no bounds.
Plumber Paul Craven, 64, said: “If you’d done article you could bet your basal dollar Roger had done it — but he’d done it bigger and better.” Roger told accompany he was already a Michelin-starred chef, endemic two restaurants, was a boxer, doctor, pilot, paramedic and bastille officer. He said he served in the SAS during a six-year aggressive career, a adventure spun on the aback of a acquaintance account his canicule as a paratrooper.
The absoluteness was beneath exciting. He was a retired HGV driver.
Paul’s wife Pauline, 60, the Clarkes’ aloft cleaner, said: “It articulate a little adopted to me. I knew it was debris aback he arrive us over for chilli and started to abscess the chip in a pan of water.”
In May 2016, over banquet at a chic restaurant, the Clarkes arrive the Cravens to accompany them on an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise.
For them, the £3,000-a-head cruise was the befalling of a lifetime.
Like best of the Clarkes’ cruises, the three-week breach would activate and end at Tilbury Docks, Essex, but came with a catch.
They would accept to alteration their clothes into new accoutrements Roger would be acrimonious up in St Lucia.
Paul, originally from Bolton, said: “He told us he’d been activity to the Caribbean on cruises to consign pineapples to Britain. He declared it ‘the pineapple run’ and said he’d been accomplishing it for a few years and was authoritative £15,000 anniversary time.
“He said the bodies with the pineapples paid for the cruises as well. They’d be advantageous for ours.
“He said ‘all I appetite you to do is accompany aback some accoutrements with you’. He said he fabricated some money off the containers of pineapples and a bit added off the suitcases.”
Pauline added: “As anon as the accoutrements were mentioned . . . there was no way we could get involved.” The Clarkes cut them off absolutely and Pauline was abandoned from her £80-a-month charwoman job.
They claimed they could not allow to accumulate her on, admitting their absurd lifestyle.
Days afterwards the Clarkes were absorbing addition British couple, who do not appetite to be named. They were additionally offered the adventitious of a chargeless holiday.
The wife, originally from Nottingham, said: “Roger told us he goes off to aggregate alien bake-apple while his wife stays on ship. He said he awash the bake-apple to hoteliers in London.
“I didn’t like him. He was a gobsh**e and a bit too friendly.
“He came beyond as absolutely a nice adolescent but there was article about him that didn’t assume right.” She was not abandoned in her opinion. The Clarkes’ belief began as anon as they accustomed in Guardamar four years ago, as they attempted to Tipp-Ex over their old life, which had started in Manchester afore their move south to Orpington.
A acquaintance said they afflicted their surnames so they could “disappear”.
The pal added: “They had been through a lot and aloof capital to put the accomplished abaft them.”
They re-tiled the advanced driveway of their busy alcazar and began authoritative new accompany at the bounded nightspots, Bar Med, O’Briens and El Bar.
A bean hawkeye — accustomed to Roger for his 70th altogether — sits at the advanced door, forth with a gnome. But there is annihilation airedale about the inside. A distinct photo of Sue’s kids, from her aboriginal marriage, sits on top of a chiffonier abutting to the stairs.
Another acquaintance said: “It was the blazon of abode that if you bare to leave it bound you could.”
Sue was well-liked, quiet, softly-spoken, a apparent Jane. Roger, on the added hand, was loathed.
One neighbour said: “He was a nobhead. A complete know-it-all. He was a actual loud Londoner.
“I absolutely did anticipate he alien alien fruits. We anticipation he had some fingers in article but never this extreme.”
Roger’s sister, Wendy Laker, followed him to the El Raso community, forth with her daughter. At her home a few streets abroad she was too agitated to speak, insisting: “There’s annihilation I can say.”
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Cops raided the couple’s berth as their liner docked in Lisbon and activate the accoutrements with cocaine hidden in apocryphal bottoms.
It was declared that Roger larboard the baiter in St Lucia and alternate with four new suitcases, aloof to adolescent cartage that he got a abundant accord on them.
A adolescent commuter said: “He said, ‘I acquaint you what, Sue, I’ve done a absolutely acceptable deal, $200 for four suitcases.
“Wasn’t that cheap? They’d accept been $1,500 in Harrods’.”
They are currently apprehension balloon and the burden appeared to get to Sue on Thursday aback she was taken to hospital.
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