New Zealand police lose criminal at Heathrow Airport

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The New Zealand police lost Rafal Luczynski, a convicted drug dealer, while at London's Heathrow Airport awaiting to be taken back to his homeland, Poland. Luczynski managed to lose the two New Zealand detectives in Terminal One on October 12.

32-year-old Luczynski was convicted three and half years ago of importing four kilograms of amphetamine ("speed"), worth an estimated $4 million. He still has eight and a half years of his twelve year sentence to serve.

The police have launched an inquiry to find out whether Luczynski's escape was due to a procedural deficiency or or an error by the detectives. If the detectives are to be faulted, then they may face disciplinary action.

The findings of the inquiry may not be made public for security reasons. Jon Neilson, spokesman for the police, said: "I can not guarantee the findings of the review will be released, because of the secret nature of the operation." It is expected in three to four weeks.

The police are not going to attempt to recapture the criminal. This is mainly because he was out of the New Zealand jurisdiction. "He's no longer wanted by New Zealand police at all," Michael Player, spokesman for the police, said, "It's just unfortunate that he exited ahead of his destination, but really he's now a UK responsibility. It's up to the UK authorities to decide how much effort they put in to trying to find him."

The Police say that a criminal evading had never happened until now, even though they do provide several escorts per week. "The policemen were rather embarrassed at losing Luczynski, who was not handcuffed when he escaped," Player said.

Luczynski first managed to escape from New Zealand when in 2001 he was in home detention. He was not caught for two years until he was found in New York. "He seems to be a bit of a Houdini artist," Player said.

Luczynski has connections to the Polish mafia.

Neilson said: "There was a formal notification for alerting British police if a prisoner was being handed over, but if the prisoner and escorts were in transit then it was a more straightforward procedure."

Api Fiso, group manager of border security for the Labour Department, said: "It was the responsibility of the police, not the department, to ensure deportees reached their destinations. Though the department had an interest in the outcome of any search, it would not be taking an active role in finding Luczynski."