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Lao ‘druglord’ appears in court after arrest at airport

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POLICE YESTERDAY brought Laotian man Xayasana Keopimpha – the suspected boss of a drug network spanning the Asean region – to a Bangkok court to obtain the first 12-day detention period for the suspect.

Police objected to bail on the grounds that they considered him a flight risk as his alleged crime carried heavy penalties.
Xayasana, 41, was arrested in front of dozens of travellers at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as he disembarked from a flight from Phuket on Thursday.
A police investigation into Xayasana, who faces drug trafficking charges, was ongoing at the time of his arrest and at least seven witnesses are expected to be interviewed soon, said a police application letter for the suspect’s detention presented at the Ratchadapisek court.
Police allege that a northeastern drug trafficking ring members Chumphon Phanomprai and Krairaj Suparp smuggled drugs from Laos into Thailand via Nong Khai province.
It is alleged the drugs were distributed by three accomplices, Thossapol Polthee, Paithoon Thongsem and Ketsayanat Thongwad, to customers in southern Thailand and Malaysia. 
Thossapol was arrested at a Nakhon Ratchasima checkpoint on September 30, 2016, when 1.2 million “yaba” methamphetamine were allegedly found hidden in the roof of his van. Police said he was heading to Songkhla’s Hat Yai district at the time.
This led to the arrest of Paithoon, Ketsayanat and another alleged accomplice Niusman Praju on October 2 in Hat Yai. 
The police investigation then identified Xayasana as the alleged boss and funder of the operation, resulting in an arrest warrant being issued for him. Police claimed Xayasana confessed to all charges.
Meanwhile, the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Centre yesterday announced its drug suppression team’s arrest of a 54-year-old Prachuap Khiri Khan man and the seizure of 648,000 yaba pills worth Bt97 million on the street. The arrest and seizure occurred at Songkhla’s Ratthaphum district on Saturday. 
Acting chief of the centre, Maj-General Pattanawut Angkhanawin, said Kamon Sukphusri confessed to transporting the drugs in a Hino truck in exchange for Bt500,000. 
Before Kamon’s arrest, police found that a member of a key drug-trafficking ring moved a large batch of yaba pills from the Northeast to the deep South via the Asia Highway. As a result, they successfully planned the operation that led to Kamon’s arrest.
Police were yesterday looking for more accomplices in the operation.
Police contacted the Narcotics Suppression Police Region 6 and Tak authorities to search and seize the suspect’s assets at his wife’s home in Tak’s Sam Ngao district, he added.

Published : January 23, 2017

By : KESINEE TANGKHIEO, NAKHARIN CHINNAWORNKOMOL THE NATION