KOROR, Feb 19, 2016:
An heir to the DHL Express empire was on the run on Friday after escaping from custody in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau, where he was being held on a drugs charge, justice officials said.
Junior Larry Hillbroom was arrested after the seizure of 160 grammes of methamphetamine, and faces a trafficking charge carrying a sentence of 25 years to 50 years in jail.
He made a brief court appearance on Thursday at which bail was set at US$500,000 (RM2.1 million) surety or a US$250,000 cash bond, due to the wealth of the defendant and his flight risk.
But Hillbroom escaped after being taken from the Palau Supreme Court back to Koror jail.
“Hillbroom had been talking to a visitor inside the Division of Corrections office when he suddenly ran out the front door,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
“He jumped into the passenger side of a white pick-up truck that was parked outside the Koror jail. A police officer ran after Hillbroom and tried to stop him and the pick-up truck from getting away, and was injured in the process.”
The driver of the vehicle was arrested on Friday but police said there was no sign of Hillbroom.
Hillbroom is a son of DHL founder Larry Hillblom but his surname is spelled differently.
According to court documents, two women who were arrested with the drugs following a flight from Manila to Palau claimed that Hillbroom “offered to pay them when they arrived in Palau”.
The documents allege Hillbroom paid for the women’s airline tickets and they recorded a phone call to him in which he acknowledged his role in the plan.
Hillbroom faced one charge of trafficking in a controlled substance, with local officials saying the drugs would be worth US$160,000 in Palau.
During his court appearance, Hillbroom was told to surrender his Palauan and American passports.
He handed over his US document but told the judge he had lost his Palauan one.
Hillbroom, a multi-millionaire, is normally based in the United States but had been living in Palau in recent months.