Xayasana Keopimpha was surrounded and detained when he arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok from Phuket on Thursday in front of dozens of travellers.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Chalermkiat Srivorakarn said the arrest resulted from cooperation with Laotian counterparts under a sting operation.
An investigation into Xayasana’s alleged drug ring found it was a major source of narcotics distribution throughout Asean nations.
Secretary-General for the Narcotics Control Board Office Sirinya Sithichai said the network has allegedly smuggled drugs to Malaysia and Singapore.
Singapore has already contacted Thai authorities seeking information on Xayasana’s network.
Chalermkiat said last year that Thai police apprehended some members of the suspect’s network and confiscated about 5 million methamphetamines in raids.
The probe was expanded and led to arrest warrants for nine suspects.
Four of the nine have been detained, including Xayasana, and authorities have confiscated assets from him valued at Bt350,000 and US$35,000 in cash.
Two others were arrested in the Bandung district of northeastern province of Udon Thani while another, a woman, was arrested in Chon Buri province, Somkiat said.
Thai and Laotian police intend to continue their operations in the case, including raids and arrests in both Thailand and Laos. The Lao side will conduct raids to hunt for more suspects and hidden assets in Khammaune province of Laos.
Police have frozen 74 assets following the raids, including 14 land title deeds, two houses, 14 luxury cars, gold ornaments and Bt1.5 million of cash, totalling more than Bt100 |million.
Pol Maj-General Sommai Kongwisaisuk, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief, said Xayasana’s suspected network has used sophisticated methods to transport drugs, different from other accused drug warlords that used horses to smuggle drug. He would not elaborate.
Sommai said Xayasana has many businesses in Laos including sawmill and hotels. He may operate a gold mine and owns many luxury cars.
Published : January 20, 2017
By : Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai, Seksanti Kalayanawisut The Nation