A British fugitive attempting to flee Australia on jet ski came agonisingly close to freedom before authorities caught him, following a 150 kilometre chase across the Torres Strait.
The man, thought to be a 57-year-old man wanted on drug charges, was trying to reach Papua New Guinea and was “possibly armed with a crossbow and carrying additional fuel and supplies,” according to an Australian Border Force (ABF) press release.
The ABF said he was apprehended on mud flats off the eastern side of Saibai Island, just kilometres from the Papua New Guinea mainland.
The action movie-style escape began in Queensland, after locals alerted police that the suspect had been seen launching the jet ski from Punsand Bay, on the northern tip of mainland Australia.
Local councillors and community members worked with authorities to identify the suspect’s escape route “and his intention to purchase fuel to facilitate his travel to PNG,” according to the ABF release.
Officers from the ABF, Australian Federal Police and Queensland Police scrambled and gave chase on an ABF cutter.
When they approached Saibai Island, an Australian possession off the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, a smaller boat was launched and the suspected was apprehended.
An AFP spokesperson said that the successful apprehension sent “a strong message to would-be fugitives – our reach across Australia is second to none and we will use all our contacts and relationships to find you and bring you before a court.”