Daughter-in-Law of Former Lao PM Denies Ties to Drug Dealer Arrested in Thailand

2017-01-24
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Sommaly Thammavong is shown with drug boss Xaysana Keophimpha (second from left) in an undated photo.
Sommaly Thammavong is shown with drug boss Xaysana Keophimpha (second from left) in an undated photo.
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The daughter-in-law of former Lao prime minister Thongsing Thammavong distanced herself on Tuesday from rumored ties to a Lao drug dealer arrested last week in Thailand, saying that a photo showing her and Thammavong’s son together with crime boss Xaysana Keopimpha was  taken “by accident."

The photo, which has circulated widely on Facebook pages following Xaysana’s Jan. 19 arrest, shows only a casual social connection among the three, Sommaly Thammavong told RFA’s Lao Service.

“We have not done any business with him, and we didn’t know what he was involved in,” Thammavong said.

“We met him by accident and had photos taken occasionally at parties or at weddings,” Thammavong, the wife of the former prime minister’s son Dethsongkam Thammavong, said.

“We each earn our living in different ways.”

Many in Laos suspect closer connections between Xaysana, the leader of a major methamphetamines distribution network in the ASEAN region, and the Thammavongs, though, a legal expert living in Laos told RFA.

“The photo shows that they are close friends, and the public believes they have close ties,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Is it really possible that they knew nothing about Xaysana’s background or the nature of his work before they allowed themselves to be photographed with him?,” he asked.

“[Xaysana] was arrested in Thailand because the police there know that he is protected in Laos by powerful political figures, and that law enforcement in the country is weak.”

'Enormous assets in Laos'


Speaking to the press on Jan. 20 following Xaysana’s arrest the day before at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thai police major-general Sommai Kongwisaisuk thanked Lao law-enforcement authorities for providing information that helped lead to the arrest.

“Lao authorities said to us that if we couldn’t arrest him here, they wouldn’t be able to do anything in Laos.”

“Xaysana has enormous assets in Laos,” Kongwisaisuk, chief of Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said.

“I don’t know what’s going on over there.”

Prior to Xaysana’s arrest, Thai police in 2016 took into custody four members of Xaysana’s drug network, seizing over 5 million methamphetamine, or yaba, pills, Thai officials told reporters at a press briefing on Jan. 20.

The arrests and subsequent investigation led finally to the Jan. 19 arrest of Xaysana and three associates after they arrived in Bangok following a visit to the southern Thai resort town of Phuket, Thai officials said.

Reached by telephone for comment, residents in the Lao capital Vientiane declined to discuss the case, saying they feared their conversations were being monitored.

Reported by Manichanh Phimphachanh and Ounkeo Souksavanh for RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh and Somnet Inthapannha. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (13)
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Lao

from AiLaoland

The Thai junta has no right to seek the extradition of the red shirt activists who take refuge in Laos, they are not criminals but political opponents of the tyranny and dictatorship. The outdated lese-majeste laws in Siam must be abolished in 21st century. There is no lese-majeste law in Laos, the majeste-laws were abolished alongside the monarchy since 1975.

Feb 12, 2017 01:41 AM

World police

from Bkk

I do not trust Thai media or Thai Military administration at all....they arrested Mr. xaysana at the air port without drug thai police only refer to the arrested drug trafficker so by law thai police cannot arrest him. the worse case senario is that Thai media or Thai police try to say that high ranking offiaical in Laos is behide him which is not true and cannot prove ....becareful the way you introduce the news

Feb 08, 2017 03:45 AM

Anonymous Reader

World Police from Bkk, it means that you trust Lao police and Lao communist administration ?

Feb 09, 2017 05:27 AM

Jurist

The arrest at the Airport was not legal, there was no drug in Xaysana's possession as evidence.

Feb 12, 2017 11:17 AM

Anonymous Reader

Ma'am I love the fatty smile on your face but I don't see your hands. Probably they are full of blood from the people you sold drug to or the ones you ordered to be killed. Poor Laos. Now the Laotians have to cross the Mekong to find whatever work they could get their hands on. The fortunate ones clean toilets , take care of the household for Thai rich families, drive taxi cabs... and the less fortunate become prostitutes or work in go go bars. You know what. How can you sleep at night ?

Feb 08, 2017 01:31 AM

Anonymous Reader

Thailand and Laos must join hands to turn both of their people into junkies and hookers so their leaders can get rich easily especially in Laos.

Feb 06, 2017 05:40 AM

Anonymous Reader

The Thai Junta has been more than motivated to round up the Lao drug dealers by fear they become the major rivals to the Thai drug king pins. Believe or not drug remains one of the main factors in Thai economy next to the sex industry. We have to be naïve enough to believe that the Thai authorities do truly crack down on drug trafficking, which is one of their national interests.

Feb 02, 2017 08:55 AM

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