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Wayne Schneider: Former bikie's death in Thailand highlights drug criminals operating overseas

ABC News logo ABC News 21/12/2015

Wayne Schneider began his career as a meth cook and later joined the Hells Angels in Sydney. © ABC News Wayne Schneider began his career as a meth cook and later joined the Hells Angels in Sydney. When Australian Wayne Rodney Schneider was beaten to death by his own bodyguard in the seedy Thai holiday town of Pattaya, it shone a light on the new world of Australian drug traffickers living overseas and flooding the country with drugs.

"He would have to sit towards the top when you look at those suppliers," former NSW Police assistant commissioner Clive Small told 7.30.

"There are a number of other people around, some of whom I know of, that would purchase very large quantities of drugs, in the tonnes, and he would fit up towards that end at least."

Mr Small has mapped the evolution of Australia's drug criminals over the last decade.

"Previously we've had people in Australia buying drugs from people in Thailand, people in the Netherlands, Colombia, so on," he said.

"What seems to have happened is that those relationships have become so familiar, with the buyers and the sellers, that some of our buyers in Australia, and some of our senior people like Schneider, have decided to actually move overseas and become a middleman based in a foreign country."

Schneider began his career as a talented meth cook and later joined the Hells Angels in Sydney.

In 2006 he hit the NSW Police's 10 most wanted list when he was accused of shooting a bouncer outside a Kings Cross nightclub.

As his wealth increased, so did police attention and in 2012 he relocated to Pattaya in Thailand.

Two years later, Schneider's position at the top became clear.

Senior police officials believe that a $1.5 billion drug bust, netting two tonnes of MDMA (ecstasy) and nearly one tonne of ice, was linked to outlaw motorcycle clubs, the Hells Angels and the Comancheros, and that Schneider was one of the brains behind it.

"If you have a person who can have access or obtain that quantity for importation, presumably on one large importation, then you have someone who is a very influential connection between the buyers in Australia and the suppliers overseas," Mr Small said.

Head of the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Chris Dawson said Schneider was part of the growing number of Australian drug traffickers who have set up around the world.

"I think Australians are becoming more international in their activities and with that, we have to ensure that our authorities are working closely with international law enforcement partners," Mr Dawson told 7.30.

Hakan "Big Hux" Ayik was one of Australia's biggest methamphetamine importers until a police sting forced him to flee the country.

Today he runs a global drug trafficking network from Istanbul with two mates from the Comanchero Motorcycle Club.

Albanian immigrant and former Kings Cross drug runner Vaso Ulic lives in Montenegro.

Since leaving Australia in 2005 he is alleged to have become the head of a globally significant drug cartel.

Australian criminals operating overseas 'here to stay': Dawson

The ACC believes that these senior drug criminals are responsible for the vast majority of drug importations to Australia.

"We estimate that they are responsible for at least 60 per cent of Australia's illicit drug market," Mr Dawson told 7.30.

"Many of them are offshore based or if they are Australian based, have very strong and regular offshore connections."

Last week 7.30 spoke with a member of the Australian drugs underworld who lives overseas.

He agreed that Schneider's move overseas is far from unique: "The main players are all living OS and pumping Oz with gear."

Australian police believe Schneider's death will have an impact on the flow of drugs into Australia.

The underworld figure disagrees and told 7.30 Schneider's murder is "good news for all imports, cuts competition".

Schneider's bodyguard Tony Bagnato was arrested in Cambodia days after the murder.

While he awaits trial in Bangkok, there are dozens of other Australian ex-pats waiting to step into the void left by Schneider.

"They are not going anywhere," Mr Dawson said.

"And I would see the international trend of Australian criminals living and operating in overseas countries is one that is here now and is here to stay."

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