Multiple drug lords have been arrested after police officers launched a major crackdown on the illegal drug trade across the country with 33 suspects in total having been arrested, a senior police general told local media Wednesday.
As much as 30 million baht ($8,57,388) was offered to bribe police officers for feeing each drug lord after the bribery brokers were detained on January 14, Director General of the General Police Department, Brigadier General Dr Thonglek Mangnormek told a press conference held at his department.
Earlier last month police officers arrested major drug lord, Khonpasong Soukkaseum also known as Xiengther, 47, who was a bigger drug dealer than Xaysana Keophimpha, another Lao national who was arrested in neighbouring Thailand on January 19. Both men were affiliated with different groups.
Khonpasong, a Lao national and a Vientiane resident and three of his cronies were arrested in Vientiane.
Brigadier General Thonglek told the media that Xaysana, also known as Vanlob, 41, was originally targeted by Lao police officers but that the suspect escaped to Thailand when Lao police contacted with their Thai counterparts who then managed to arrest him at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The arrest of Xaysana drew international media attention all deeming him a major drug kingpin.
Brigadier General Thonglek stated that Lao police did not respond to questions surrounding Xaysana immediately after his arrest due to the fact that the police were concerned that an immediate response could impact their ongoing investigations.
He then confirmed that Lao police officers did take action to crackdown on Xaysana’s group.
“Our police officers have arrested a team of Xaysana’s in Vientiane and Khammuan province, Xaysana’s home province, on January 20, 2017. Five people were detained including a female,” the Brigadier General confirmed. Asked if Laos will request Thailand to extradite Xaysana to be prosecuted in Laos, the Brigadier General said there would be a need to look into the relevant laws of the two countries first.
“So far, attention has not been placed on this issue (the extradition),” he said.
Drug lords and dealers of another three groups have also been arrested.
In September last year, Kinoy Phaxay also known as Noy Akard, 34, a resident of Akard village in Sikhottabong district, Vientiane and 16 affiliated persons including two foreigners were arrested.
In December last year, police officers arrested a couple – Vath Philaban, 41, and Keo Philaban, 39, in northern Bokeo province while last month police officers arrested Khonthai Khotsombath and two affiliates in Lakmeuang, Songkhone district in Savannakhet province.
A number of assets and evidence linked to the drug trade have been seized including houses, a hotel, a market, a restaurant, flats, a furniture plant, a tin-roofing manufacturing plant, warehouses, garages, a gas station, cars, jet-skis, various kinds of drugs and military guns, among other possessions.
“After the investigations, the suspects have confessed that they have traded, transported or possessed drugs and that the impounded evidence did belong to them,” Brigadier General Thonglek said.
Brigadier General Thonglek stated that their investigation is ongoing and seeking the remaining members of all five groups. He added that police officers are now finalising cases to hand to prosecutors to bring the suspects to court.
The Brigadier General thanked all sectors including members of the public who have participated in the crackdown.