Manhunt Scours Laos for Accomplices in 'Mr. X' Drug Ring

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Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board, answers questions during a press conference, Feb. 9, 2017.
Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board, answers questions during a press conference, Feb. 9, 2017.

Lao and Thai authorities have launched a manhunt for five people believed to be part of a major drug gang that operated in the Mekong River region, according to Thai authorities.

The authorities say they captured four people who are suspected of being members of a drug-dealing operation controlled by Xaysana Keopimpha, but five more people are believed to be on the run in Laos.

“[We] sent information to the Lao side to investigate, and the Lao Drug National Control and Suppression Department is the lead agency,” said Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) at today’s press conference.

Sitdhichai said they got a break in the case after police in Laos recently arrested a suspected drug dealer there. That suspect was not named.

The authorities also announced that they had seized Xaysana’s assets in the Lao provinces of Khammuan and Vientiane.

Xaysana, 41, was arrested on Jan. 19 at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after arriving from Phuket after a five-year long investigation by Thai and Lao authorities.

Authorities say Xaysana was supplying caffeine-laced meth tablets known as "yaba" produced in Myanmar throughout the region.

Known as Mr. X, Xaysana led a lavish lifestyle that included contacts with high-society figures in the region, a fleet of exotic cars, at least five houses, a 200 hectare rubber plantation, and several bank accounts.

The arrest also led the daughter-in-law of former Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong to distance herself on Jan. 24 from rumored ties to Xaysana,

Sommaly Thammavong told RFA’s Lao Service last month that a photo showing her and Thammavong’s son together with crime boss Xaysana was taken “by accident."

The photo, which has circulated widely on Facebook pages following Xaysana’s 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.

Reported and translated by RFA's Lao Service. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Comments (5)

Anonymous Reader

It is good to notice that some ill-fated guys here are always seeking to make cheap accusation against peoples for political purpose.

Feb 14, 2017 11:20 AM

independant jurist

from Ailaoland

The arrest was not legal since there was no drug in the suspect's possession as evidence at the moment of handcuffing. I see that the defense lawyer has the good legal arguments to prove the suspect innocent. It is well known that the Thai authorities are the best to fabricate the fake cases to make of the innocents peoples scapegoats. I have also a serious doubt about the Thai justice system independence. All the courts and judges are flanked by the Junta.

Feb 13, 2017 11:06 AM


from Krypton

The truth is, Mr. X works for the Lao government, just under the table. Why would the Lao government speak up against their own employee that's filling their bottomless pocket. Mr X. is showering these high ranking government officials with Lexus, Range Rovers, mansions, etc.. Why stop Mr. X when they can lay low and defend him for their personal gain.

Feb 10, 2017 08:46 PM

Anonymous Reader

What is not understandable, why Thai officials have to continue to speak on Lao PDR's behalf on this issue? Doesn't Lao PDR government have any competent spokesperson to speak for Laos? Isn't Xaysana a Lao citizen? Or perhaps high ranking members of Lao PDR's government are so involved in this illicit trade and they are trying to lay low until this news goes away? It is doubtful that LPDR can continue to play with Sombath's disappearance tactics by staying silence with this case. There are too many parties and countries involved.

Feb 10, 2017 09:37 AM

Anonymous Reader

The Lao government and their kins are neck-deep involved. Have you ever seen just the arrest of one drug lord could send a shock-wave to the whole politburo in Laos? Now they are trying to conceal everything. The funniest thing is that Mr X could reveal Lao Big Men's off-shore bank accounts.

Feb 10, 2017 12:42 PM


from Vermont USA

Good reporting but the English translation is sloppy and poorly edited.

Feb 09, 2017 08:28 PM

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