Lao police seize 14 million meth pills, arrest two suspects

Police say they are investigating the incident and interrogating the men.
By RFA Lao
2024.05.17
Lao police seize 14 million meth pills, arrest two suspects Police stand beside two men arrested for suspected drug trafficking in Bokeo province, Laos, May 2024.
Bokeo Province Police

Lao police seized more than 14 million methamphetamine tablets during raids on two houses in a village in the notorious crime-ridden Golden Triangle area of Bokeo province and arrested two suspects, police in the northern province told Radio Free Asia.

Authorities apprehended Nor Khoua Chong, 29, and Yeng Kong, 38, also known as Songkham, and confiscated guns, ammunition and a pickup truck from the houses in Chiengtong village, Paktha district, on May 12, Lao state media reported.

“We’re investigating the case and interrogating the suspects,” a police officer from Bokeo province, who declined to be identified so he could speak freely, told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday. “Right now, we can’t reveal a lot of information about the case.”

The area where northern Laos converges with Myanmar and Thailand at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers is a haven for narcotics trafficking, prostitution and online scamming by organized criminal networks. 

Though Lao authorities have committed to combating the country’s long-running trafficking of illegal narcotics, the crime remains rife in the Golden Triangle.

In February 2023, authorities seized 500 kilograms (1,100 lbs.) of crystal meth and arrested four smugglers in one of the largest hauls of the narcotic there. 

The maximum punishment for smuggling this amount of drugs is death, said a Lao criminal lawyer who requested anonymity for safety reasons.

Most convicted drug smugglers are sent to prisons on isolated islands in the Nam Gnum Dam reservoir in the Keo Oudom district of Vientiane province, he said. 

“The islands are like concentration camps for serious criminals awaiting execution,” he added.

Police have stepped up security in Bokeo province, inspecting vehicles they suspect may be transporting illegal drugs along roads in the border areas between districts and provinces, said a resident of the province. 

“The two suspects might be a part of a big drug smuggling network in the country or region,” the person said.

A Lao man, whose identity is unknown, took to social media to urge authorities to consider tough punishment for the two drug smugglers.

“I want to see capital punishment just to deter others from doing the same crime,” he said.  

Translated by RFA Lao. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Mike Firn.

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