Crocodile cruise operator Dennis "Lee" Lafferty of far north Queensland, who died in a car crash last month, has "been unveiled as an American drug fugitive who faked his own death more than 40 years ago".
Lafferty is claimed to be
Raymond Grady Stansel Jr, an alleged drug smuggler who supposedly died in a scuba diving accident in 1974. ...
Stansel was indicted that year for smuggling more than 12 tonnes of cannabis into Florida.
But his trial never proceeded, with his lawyer announcing in January 1975 his client had disappeared scuba diving in Honduras. An aerial search of the coastline didn't recover a body.
While many doubted the story, Stansel couldn't be found despite rumours of his ongoing operations reaching the ears of police.
He eventually settled in Queensland before founding the Daintree River Cruise Centre in the late 80s.The Tampa Bay Times reported
Prosecutors described Stansel, then a 37-year-old fisherman and charter boat captain out of Tarpon Springs, as a "soldier of fortune.''
When arrested that June, he had $25,000 in cash, receipts for two $25,000 Rolex watches, signed blank tourist visas that would allow him into Nicaragua at any time, unused checks on a Swiss bank account, flags from six countries and a passport indicating he had been in 12 in the preceding 30 days.
Stansel posted bail with a $500,000 cashier's check, surrendered his U.S. passport and left the Hillsborough County Jail to await a trial scheduled for Jan. 5, 1975, in Daytona Beach.
On the morning of Jan. 5, Stansel's attorney announced that he had disappeared in a scuba diving accident off Roatan, Honduras, on New Year's Eve. His body had not been recovered but airplanes were searching the shoreline.
Few believed the story. On the other hand, no one could find him.