Chart showing alleged members of drugs ring.

Anti-drug authorities have smashed a cross-border drug trafficking gang, arresting four people including a suspected Lao drug lord and confiscating assets linked to the network totalling 100 million baht.

The national deputy police chief said the arrests of Lao national Xaysana Keopimpha, 42, and three Thais came after five years of investigation into a narcotics ring that smuggles drugs around Asean countries.

Mr Xaysana was detained at Suvarnabhumi airport late on Thursday afternoon while he was leaving the arrival terminal after a trip to Phuket, in an operation involving more than 100 anti-narcotics and tourist officers.

The three Thais were subsequently apprehended in connection with his drug operation at different locations. Two were arrested in Udon Thani, and one in Chon Buri.

A large number of assets were confiscated in connection with the trafficking operation including 14 land plots, 14 luxury cars, gold accessories, and Thai and US cash totalling 100 million baht.

Over the course of the probe, Thai authorities arrested several drug couriers but they had no idea who they were working for.

Last year the officials made a breakthrough, seizing more than five million methamphetamine pills. A widened investigation led to arrest warrants being issued for 9 people along with 36 search warrants.

Mr Xaysana and the other three suspects were among the nine.

Pol Gen Chalermkiat said Thai officials received cooperation from their Lao counterparts in the crackdown.

He said he was informed Lao authorities were about to launch a crackdown and search suspected locations used by the network to conceal the assets.

Police stated that Mr Xaysana’s network is allegedly linked to three other drug rings.

The Narcotics Suppression Bureau head said Mr Xaysana’s network is in the same league as two other drug kingpins, Wei Sia Kang and Lao Ta Saenlee.

The arrest of Mr Xaysana marks a crucial step in Thai-Lao drug suppression efforts.

Officials will continue to do their best to find the network’s hidden drug-related assets and seize them.

Mr Xaysana is believed to be the ringleader and owns a wide range of businesses including hotels, sawmills and luxury car dealing, while most of his drug-related assets are likely to be stashed in Laos.

Police believe the network has more than 100 people involved and is linked to other cross-border drug trafficking groups.

It is believed that the suspect was cooperative and gave useful statements to police.

The Office of Narcotics Control Board said Mr Xaysana’s network allegedly moved massive amounts of drugs and police confiscated between one to two million pills in each arrest.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office is now being asked to investigate the group’s assets.

(Source: Bangkok Post)

By Juninho