A convicted criminal’s last-ditch attempt to avoid extradition to Peru, where he faces drug smuggling charges, has seen it delayed.
Jamie Cato, 44, from South Shore, was set to become one of the first Britons to be flown to the South American country yesterday, where it is alleged he mailed a parcel of cocaine several years ago.
But just as he was putting his affairs in order and preparing to defend himself, he received good news from his solicitor, who has argued Mr Cato’s life will be in danger if he were to be jailed in Peru: he has been granted an appeal.
Mr Cato’s claim his life is threatened is thought to involve his brother Jason, who died while on parole in Peru in March.
He had been jailed for smuggling drugs and was later thrown from a third floor balcony by inmates inside the notorious Lurigancho prison in Lima – described as one of the toughest in the world – his family claims.
He was behind bars for three years before being released and, Mr Cato said, possibly owed criminals money – putting his own life at risk.
Mr Cato said he was warned by somebody he knows inside the country.
“He told me, ‘you can’t come over here, your life is in danger if you do’,” he said.
Mr Cato said gangs operating in Peru could come after him, and welcomed the appeal, though he added: “It’s still uncertainty.
“It could take a couple of days for them to look at it, or it could be months, or years.
“People that know me have been great and supportive, but there are comments from people who don’t and are judging me.”
Mr Cato was just days from completing a jail sentence for his roles in transporting £20,000 of amphetamine into Cumbria when he was arrested and told he was wanted by Peruvian police last year.
Mr Cato admits his involvement in the Cumbrian drugs operation, for which he was sentenced in 2012, but insists he is innocent of the allegations in Peru, where he faces a lengthy jail term if found guilty.
Mr Cato was in Peru from 2007 to 2009, he says, where he was showing potential investors around properties.
Peruvian authorities allege he deposited a parcel containing just over 400g of cocaine at a post office in downtown Lima on November 24, 2009. though Mr Cato maintains he may have been duped into sending a parcel on someone’s behalf.
After being arrested, Mr Cato lost an extradition hearing and a subsequent appeal.
Mr Cato’s lawyers say his is only the third extradition request from Peru in living memory.