BANGKOK • The Thai anti-narcotics police have arrested a Laotian man who is suspected to be a drug kingpin with a network that spans Asean countries, including Singapore.
Xayasana Keopimpha was surrounded and detained in front of dozens of travellers when he arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok from Phuket on Thursday, reported The Nation.
Deputy national police chief General Chalermkiat Srivorakarn said the arrest resulted from cooperation with Laotian counterparts in a sting operation.
An investigation into Xayasana's alleged drug ring found it was a major source of narcotics distribution throughout Asean.
Secretary-general for the Narcotics Control Board Office Sirinya Sithichai said the network has allegedly smuggled drugs to Singapore and Malaysia.
ASSETS FROZEN AFTER RAIDS
Land title deeds
"Singapore has already contacted the Thai authorities seeking information on the suspect's network," said Mr Sirinya, according to Bernama news agency.
Gen Chalermkiat said last year that the Thai police apprehended some members of the suspect's network and confiscated about five million methamphetamine pills in raids, reported The Nation.
Subsequently, the probe was expanded and led to arrest warrants for nine suspects.
Four of the nine have now been detained, including Xayasana, and the authorities have confiscated assets from him valued at 350,000 baht (S$14,000) and US$35,000 (S$50,000) in cash.
The Thai and Laotian police intend to continue their operations, including raids and arrests in both Thailand and Laos.
The Laotian side will conduct raids to hunt for more suspects and hidden assets in Khammouane province, in central Laos.
The police have frozen 74 assets following the raids, including 14 land title deeds, two houses, 14 luxury cars, gold ornaments and 1.5 million baht in cash, totalling more than 100 million baht.
Police Major-General Sommai Kongwisaisuk, Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief, said Xayasana's suspected network has used sophisticated methods to transport drugs.
He would not elaborate.
Maj-Gen Sommai said Xayasana has many businesses in Laos, including a sawmill and hotels.
He may even have a gold mine and owns many luxury cars.
"Officials will do their best to locate and seize the drug network's hidden drug-related assets.
"We will consolidate asset-confiscating efforts. We have to stop their financial resources," said Maj-Gen Sommai, according to Bernama.