Ong Gim Wah, a 39-year-old Malaysian national, was apprehended for drug-related crimes in Laos in a joint operation between Lao and Thai authorities on 29 December, 2023.
The Office of Narcotics Control Board in Thailand revealed the arrest on January 1, highlighting Wah’s extensive involvement in a transnational drug syndicate operating in the Golden Triangle Region since 2006.
Authorities suspect that Wah collaborated with drug networks spanning Thailand, Malaysia, China, Singapore, and Laos. Thailand served as a crucial money laundering and transit point for smuggling drugs into Malaysia, Taiwan, and Australia.
His arrest follows a major drug seizure in June, where seven other suspects were apprehended with a staggering 998 kilograms of crystal meth in Ratchaburi, according to the Bangkok Post.
The joint operation resulted in the confiscation of Wah’s assets, including a plot of land, two condominium units, three yachts, two cars, three motorbikes, three guns, THB 275,000 (USD 8000) in cash, 10 bank accounts, and other assets across Bangkok, Trat, Chiang Rai, and Chon Buri, worth an estimated THB 85 million (USD 2.48 million).
Over the past year, Lao authorities have intensified efforts to crack down on drug smuggling, especially in Bokeo Province. The crackdown led to one of the biggest busts in the country’s history, along with other seizures of substantial impact.
In September of last year, Lao authorities managed to confiscate 33 million tablets along with 500 kg of crystal methamphetamine during a traffic stop in Bokeo Province. In June, two men were arrested in Tonpheung district after being found in possession of 2.8 million amphetamine pills.
In August, Bokeo Province authorities also seized 720 kg of methamphetamine found hidden in two pick-up trucks following a tip-off by residents. While in Vientiane Capital, local police discovered over 5 million amphetamine pills in an SUV that flipped in the center of Vientiane Capital’s Chanthabouly district.
As drug smuggling continues to be an issue throughout the country, especially in crime-ridden centers such as the Golden Triangle, authorities in Laos, along with neighboring countries are enhancing their grip on the problem.