A number of drug ring leaders have been detained after police officials ordered a massive clampdown on the illicit drug trade across the country. It has been reported by a senior police officer that a total of 33 suspects have been apprehended in connection to the drug related crimes.
A press conference held by Director General of the General Police Department, Brigadier General Dr.Thonglek Mangnormek revealed that an astounding 30 million baht was used to bribe police officers for releasing each drug lord.
Following the notorious arrest of Lao national kingpin Xaysana Keophimha at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok on January 19th, officers captured yet another key member of the trade, Khonpasong Soukkaseum, also known as Xiengther, and three of his associates in early February. Khonpasong is said to be an even bigger player in the drug trafficking world than Xaysana. Both leaders are identified to be affiliated with different groups.
Brig. General Thonglek informed the media, that Xaysana, also known as Hialob, had evaded the Lao police by fleeing to Thailand. Lao officers swiftly alerted Thai law enforcement who managed to take him into police custody at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Due to ongoing police investigations involving the drug ring, Brig. General Thonglek stated, Lao police could not provide any answers immediately after Xaysana’s arrest in fear of it negatively impacting the case.
He then confirmed that Lao officers have taken action in efforts to crack down on Xaysana and his affiliates. He stated, “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.”
When questioned if Laos will request Thailand to extradite the drug lord to be indicted in Laos, the Brigadier General replied that the relevant laws of the two countries must be examined first, and as of now, is not a pressing matter.
Though an uphill battle, Lao Officers have been making strides when it comes to fighting drugs.
Three more major drug lords and their dealers from different rings have been incarcerated.
Last September, drug lord Kinoy Phaxay also known as Noy Akard, and 16 of his associates including two foreigners were detained.
In December a middle-aged couple, Vath Philaban and Mrs Keo Philaban, were arrested in northern Bokeo province.
While just last month, police officers captured Khonthai Khotsombath and two affiliates in Savannakhet province.
A multitude of assets and evidence linked to the drug trade have been confiscated including residences, luxury cars, jet-skis, a hotel, a market, a restaurant, various manufacturing plants, warehouses, garages, a gas station, assorted drugs, military guns and many other unnamed possessions.
Brig. General Thonglek has said that the the suspects in question have plead guilty to trading, transporting and possessing the drugs that have been impounded for evidence.
The investigation is said to be still going strong and officers are pursuing the remaining members of all five groups. He added that police officers are now finalising cases to hand to prosecutors to try the suspects in court.
The Brigadier General has expressed gratitude in all sectors, including members of the public who have aided in the crackdown.