AUTHORITIES in Thailand seized several assets including a house and two supercars on Tuesday after raiding the home of a suspect linked to alleged Lao drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha.
The two supercars – a Bentley and Ferrari, both worth more than THB20 million (US$580,000) – were picked up from the home of Ratchapol Tarsapolpakorn in the Udon Thani province’s Muang District.
According to the Bangkok Post, Ratchapol himself was detained during the raid after a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection with the cross-border narcotics ring purportedly run by Xaysana.
Narcotics Suppression Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sommai Kongsisaisuk was quoted as saying the seized the luxury vehicles for an investigation into possible money laundering.
He said the suspect possessed documents proving his ownership of the cars, Bangkok Post reported.
Sommai said while the suspect admitted knowing Xaysana, as well as Lao celebrity Sisouk Daoheuang who has also been arrested in connection with the case, he denied being involved in the drug trade.
Sources told the paper that the Ferrari and Bentley were purchased recently with cash.
Several other cars were also seized, some of which belonged to the suspect’s father. The authorities also seized a three-story house.
The sources said the authorities had information that the suspect had been managing Xaysana’s assets and had no permanent job or source of income, according to initial investigations.
The suspect is accused of transferring more than THB90 million (US$2.6 million) in a money laundering scheme.
Sommai said the network was also involved in illegal logging.
Last month, Xaysana, the man said to be one of Southeast Asia’s biggest drug lords, told a Thai court he was not related to the drug trade and vowed to fight the case.
Xaysana, 42, denied charges of trafficking some 1.2 million methamphetamine pills to sell in Thailand.
Authorities earlier said Xaysana has no prior criminal records.
The court has set June 19 for a pre-trial examination of evidence.
Following his arrest at the Suvarnabhumi Airport on Jan 19, Xaysana, or “Mr X” as he is more commonly known, has become the subject of wide media fascination across the region. Authorities have since worked to uncover a vast narcotics cross-border network that spans Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
With Xaysana’s 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 US Dollars and Thai Baht equaling THB1.5 (US$42,000). The total haul was valued at roughly THB100 million (US$2.8 million).
Xaysana’s trips to Thailand also showed lavish stays in luxury hotels and prior to his arrest, the alleged kingpin is believed to have met with clients from his so-called network.
The authorities also believe members of his drug ring number within the hundreds and that the network has links to international mafia groups and triads.
In February, Malaysian police arrested a local man, Kamarudin Awang, suspected of being a major drug dealer linked to Xaysana’s network.
Kamaruddin is believed to be the son-in-law of Marining Jako, the leader of a drug network that sourced contraband from the North and Northeast of Thailand. Thai police had been monitoring Kamaruddin for more than five years prior to his arrest.
Thai police said Kamarudin’s drug trade was also believed to have partially funded unrest in insurgency-plagued Southern Thailand.
Last year, Thai police nabbed four members of Xaysana’s drug network, seizing over five million methamphetamine, or yaba, pills.
Xaysana’s network purportedly involves 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 suspect.