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Alleged Drug Cartel Money Cleaner Arrested in Northeastern Thailand

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Watchaphum told police he ran a money exchange business in Outhoumphone, in Savannakhet province in Laos. He would often withdraw 500,000 baht to 5 million baht at a time after customers transferred money into his account.

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BANGKOK – An alleged money-launderer for a Lao drug network has been arrested in Northeastern Thailand. Police claiming he “laundered” more than 200 million baht of drug money over a four-month period.

Watchaphum Sudlar, 41, of Bangkok, was charged with money laundering and paraded at a news conference in Nakhon Ratchasima on Thursday.

Police said they found Bt 1.5 million in cash and 55 million kip (about 190,000 baht) in his possession. Police also discovered four bank account books and five ATM cards.

Alleged Drug Money other valuables seized from alleged money-launderer

They also seized a pickup truck, five mobile phones, a five-baht weight gold necklace, a 1.8-carat diamond ring and other items.

His arrest was a result of an ongoing investigation into the money trail generated by a drug trafficking network. A Laos based gang, that smuggles drugs into northeastern Thailand.

Police alleged that many arrested drug offenders had transferred money into the bank account of a man identified only as Mr A Money. The cash was later transferred to other accounts. More than 200 million baht had passed through the account over four months, police said.

Police charted the Drug money trail of the Laos drug network

The investigators followed the money trail, which led to the arrest of Mr Watchaphum. He was arrested while withdrawing money in Mukdahan province.

Watchaphum told police he ran a money exchange business in Outhoumphone, in Savannakhet province in Laos. He would often withdraw 500,000 baht to 5 million baht at a time after customers transferred money into his account.

Watchaphum said he would then take the money to his customers in Laos.

He insisted he had no knowledge about the source of the money or how his clients acquired it. He received only fees, which depended on the amount of money his clients wanted to exchange.

Police were not convinced by his explanation, and detained and charged him with colluding in money-laundering.