A brothel madam who ran a string of massage parlours in Cardiff is now behind bars after going on the run for seven years.
Diana Jones enjoyed a “life of luxury” while hiding in the Turkish enclave of Northern Cyprus – which has no extradition treaty with the UK – after refusing to pay back the £2.6m she earned from running massage parlours in Cardiff and Swindon.
But Jones was arrested at Stansted Airport moments after flying back into the UK.
She went on the run after owing £2.6m
It is believed the grandmother decided to return home due to concerns about her health.
A spokesman for specialist police unit Tarian – a team of detectives from the South Wales , Gwent and Dyfed-Powys forces – said: “Diana Jones, who ran a string of brothels in Cardiff and Swindon, was arrested by officers from Tarian and Essex Police.
“The fugitive, who when she went on the run seven years ago, owed £2.6m due to a confiscation order imposed at the time.
“However, she was arrested on her return to the UK when she arrived at Stansted Airport.
“Following medical checks she was taken to Peterborough Prison where she will commence a four-year default sentence for failing to pay her confiscation order.”
‘Kept working girls off the streets’
Jones’ sex empire included three brothels in the Welsh capital – which reportedly once netted more than £11,000 on one Six Nations rugby weekend alone.
One of her most famous clients was the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Phil Williams, who suffered a heart attack while visiting her parlour Twice As Nice in 2003.
A court later heard that police had tolerated Jones’ illicit businesses for many years because it kept working girls off the streets – a claim later contested by senior detectives.
However, she ended up being the architect of her own downfall after taking two eastern European women she suspected of being human trafficking victims to police.
That “good Samaritan” gesture prompted police to launch Operation Pentameter, which looked into women forced into the sex industry.
‘Hard evidence’ of money laundering
The probe found that Jones had nothing to do with trafficking and her “girls” worked of their own accord, but detectives did find hard evidence of Jones’ money laundering.
In 2008, she received a 12-month suspended sentence and the following year she was ordered to pay back £2.6m or warned she would go to prison.
By this time, Jones had already left the UK and she refused to come back home after learning of her fate.
But despite being a wanted woman, the former pub landlady did not appear worried about keeping a low profile.
In an interview with the Wales on Sunday in 2013, Jones said: “I’ve made a good life for myself here.
“I know the sentence is never going to go away, but in the meantime there’s nice weather, a great lifestyle and everyone speaks English.”
‘Stark contrast to her luxury lifestyle’
In December 2015 she was photographed in ex-pat newspaper Cyprus Today attending a Christmas party.
However on May 19, Jones was finally apprehended.
News of the high-profile capture has gone unnoticed until now, with the only information released on it being posted on Tarian’s website the day before the EU referendum.
As well as the jail term, police said the interest on Jones’ Proceeds of Crime Act debt had seen the figure rise to £3.7m.
Tarian Detective Chief Inspector Huw Davies said: “Jones is being detained in Peterborough prison, which is a stark contrast to the luxury lifestyle she led in Northern Cyprus over the last seven years.
“It is testament to the determination of these teams and the cooperation and assistance of the other agencies involved in this operation, particularly the NCA, Borders Agency and Essex Police, that has led to this successful conclusion.
“It also confirms the message to criminals that it doesn’t matter how far you go or how long you think you have got away with it, we will not give up and at some point you will be held to account.”