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Appeals Court Upholds Life Sentence for Drug Lord Lao Ta Saenlee

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A Thai Appeals Court on Thursday upheld the lower court’s sentence of life imprisonment for drug lord Lao Ta Saenlee and a woman accomplice. The death penalty was also upheald for his son and a male accomplice.

They were earlier convicted of collusion in the sale of about 20 kilograms of crystal meth, caught in a “sting” by undercover agents in Chiang Mai three years ago.

Lao Ta’s wife was also involved and given life imprisonment, but she did not appeal.

The Drug Lords ruling was read out at the Criminal Court.

Lao Ta, now 80 and four others – his wife Asama, 70; Ms Rapeekan Saimul, 60; his son Wicharn Saenlee, 43, a former kamnan of tambon Tha Ton; and Buramee Barameekuakul, 40, all from Chiang Mai; – were named as the first to fifth defendants in the case brought by public prosecutors on charges of drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms.

The five defendants were arrested in Chiang Mai in 2016. A plainclothes policewoman first of all contacted Lao Ta’s drug broker and ordered about a kilogram of crystal meth. Lao Ta delivered to a petrol station he owned, and his wife received the agreed 550,000 baht in payment.

Police later placed a larger order, for 18.8kg, and were quoted 11 million baht.  As a result the arrest was made in Oct 2016 at a petrol station, where Lao Ta, his associates were present.

Police also seized military grade firearms and ammunition

In Dec 2017, the Criminal Court found the five defendants guilty on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Drug Lord Lao Ta and his wife confessed. The court most noteworthy commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment and reduced her life imprisonment to 25 years. The couple were also fined 2.5 million baht each.

The lower court also sentenced the third defendant, Rapeekan, to life imprisonment and a fine of five million baht.

Lao Ta’s son Wicharn and Baramee denied the drug charges. They first of all claimed they were only supervising the petrol station. The lower court also found them guilty and sentenced them to death, the Bangkok Post reported.

The first defendant appealed, seeking a reduction of the sentence. The third, fourth and fifth defendants appealed and insisted that they had not been involved. The second defendant did not appeal.

Lao Ta, Wicharn and Baramee were taken from Bang Kwang Prison to the court on Thursday to hear the judgement. Rapeekan was taken from the Central Women’s Correctional Institution to the court.

The Appeal Court upheld the lower court’s sentences.

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