Notorious Lao drug lord Xaysana Keophimpha will remain subject to Thai law and the Lao government is unlikely to ask for his extradition, a government official has confirmed.
As The Laotian Times has previously reported, Xaysana, also known as Vanlob, 41, was arrested at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on January 19, along with three other accomplices.
As reported by the media, Thai police officers had raided and arrested a number of alleged drug dealers in the kingdom, rumored to have connections to Xaysana. Several million US dollars worth of assets linked to the drug trade have since been seized.
“Xaysana was arrested in Thailand and that has to be handled in line with Thai laws,” Government spokesman, Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher, disclosed at a press conference on Friday. “The government has not raised the issue of requesting extradition.”.
A senior official from the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained to Thai media that Laos and Thailand have signed an extradition treaty, but the Lao government is unlikely to request Xaysana’s extradition.
The Lao government can request his extradition, but it would be contingent upon Thai authorities and whether they agree with extraditing the drug lord. However, Laos requesting extradition is highly doubtful, a source has said.
It was clarified by the source that in a hypothetical case in which a Lao criminal fled to Thailand but committed no offence while there, Thai authorities would be obliged to return the suspect following a request made by Laos authorities in accordance with the treaty.
Since Xaysana was alleged to have based his drug trafficking network in Thailand, which means the supposed crimes were in violation of Thai laws, the Thai authorities have a legal right to detain, investigate, prosecute and sentence him, if found guilty.
Following Xaysana’s capture, Lao officers hunted down gang members affiliated with the drug lord in Vientiane and Khammuan province, including the arrest of another major drug lord, Khonpasong Soukkaseum, also known as Xiengther, 47, who is rumored to be a more prominent drug dealer than Xaysana himself.
33 additional suspected drug traffickers and dealers from five gangs have been arrested following the nationwide crackdown.
Officers are in an ongoing pursuit for the remaining gang members, and are actively building cases against the offenders who are currently in custody, in preparation for the prosecution.