THE FACEBOOK photographs of a so-called top Southeast Asian drug lord arrested in Thailand recently have been been making rounds on social media this week, and appear to depict an extravagant lifestyle of selfies with supercars and luxury properties.
Following his arrest at the Suvarnabhumi Airport on Jan 19, the suspected Laotian drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha, or “Mr X” as he is more commonly known, has become the subject of wide media fascination across the region, with authorities now working round-the-clock to uncover the vast narcotics cross-border network that spans Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) chief, Lt Gen Sommai Kongvisaisuk, was quoted by Malaysian news agency Bernama as saying that police have gathered information on Mr X’s connection with Malaysian drug syndicates and were looking to unearth the inner workings of his network.
“All the (big) cases involving a Malaysian syndicate trying to smuggle drugs from Thailand into Malaysia pointed to the involvement of Xaysana. The Malaysian syndicate got its drugs from Xaysana’s network,” he said, adding that the arrest was the result of over five years of investigation.
Several media reports said the 41-year-old alleged drug baron was arrested at the airport in front of many passengers as he disembarked a flight from resort island Phuket along with a man and two women who were not identified.
Thai police have obtained a warrant for another five suspects.
With the arrest, Thai and Laotian police seized 74 items, including two residences, 14 land titles, 14 luxury cars, 11 motorbikes, two farm vehicles, 29 bank accounts, gold jewelry and cash in U.S. Dollars and Thai Baht equaling THB1.5 (US$42,000).
The total haul was valued at roughly THB100 million (US$2.8 million), according to the Laotian Times.
Working closely with their Thai counterparts to bust Xaysana’s drug cartel, Thai police said they have found another three connected narcotics networks which are currently being pursued by the authorities.
Laotian police are also scouring the Khammouane province where Xaysana is said to be running a slew of businesses and storing assets which include lumber mill, a hotel, and sports cars.
Xaysana is also said to have been running a gold mine operation in the country among the businesses and assets gained from the sale of narcotics in the region.
Xaysana’s trips to Thailand also showed his lavish stays in luxury hotels and prior to his arrest, the alleged kingpin is believed to have met with clients from his network. The authorities also believe said members of his drug ring numbered within the hundreds with links to international mafia groups and triads.
Last year, Thai police nabbed four members of Xaysana’s drug network, seizing over 5 million methamphetamine, or yaba, pills.
Xaysana’s network purportedly involved several Thai celebrities and elites said to have laundered money for him – including the boyfriend of a famous Thai actress and the daughter-in-Law of Former Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, who have all denied any ties with the man.