CHIANG RAI – The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has set a Bt5,000,000 bounty on Chaiwat Pornsakulpaisal, or Lt Col Yi Sae, and is tapping all venues to get the drug kingpin to Thailand.
The reward for his capture follows two major drug busts in the old capital on Friday and Sunday.
While in Ayutthaya Province NCB Secretary General Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen said that the agency was mulling an arrest warrant and will contact Myanmar and Interpol to arrest Yi Sae after having enough evidence of his involvement in drug production and trafficking through Northern Thailand.
Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen said Yi Sae was believed to be in the Myanmar border area of Thachilek opposite Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.
The decision to put Yi Sae on the most-wanted list, with a huge bounty on his head, was taken the very day that the death of the original Opium Warlord was announced in Yangon.
Lo Hsing Han, who led a chequered career producing and trafficking opium and heroin, died on Saturday, in his mid-70s, his family said.
He was the king of heroin in the 1970s, the subject of the award-winning film by Adrian Cowell that dubbed him the king of the Opium Warlords (1974), and amazed the world with film of lines of hundreds of mules packing opium to smugglers and heroin refineries.
After spending time in Thai prison, Lo Hsing Han went back to Myanmar, and cut a deal with the military junta running the country.
The generals, in exchange for millions of dollars of his money, made him a legal “businessman”, who built tourist hotels, a Rangoon port and other Opium financed companies.
Then Myanmar’s 4th President Ne Win allowed his Lo Hsing Han’s protege, Khun Sa, take over the dirtiest part of the opium and heroin trade.
The drug warlord Khun Sa now leads Muser tribal troops in Myanmar and has long been suspected of heading a major drug smuggling organisation.
The agency believes that this central province and neighbouring Ang Thong are his key posts to keep drugs, especially methaphetamine pills, before distributing them to dealers in Greater Bangkok.
A large number of methamphetamine pills were seized in a raid on a rented room in Ayutthaya early on Sunday.
A raid on a Madee dormitory in Bang Pa-in district in Ayutthaya was led by Pol Maj Gen Korn-ek Phetchaiwet, the Ayutthaya Chief of Police and Pol Col Sarathoon Pradit, chief of Pang Pa-in police, on information from residents who suspected the room might have been used to deal drugs.
Police searched the room and found 51,600 methamphetamine pills, two pistols with 23 rounds of ammunition and a bullet-proof vest. Nobody was in the room at the time.
The room was rented by a woman identified as Sukanya Poomsanthia, who signed the rental contract, but it was a man, Sompong Khieopra-in, who had occupied the room.
Mr Sompong was arrested earlier on July 5 with 500,000 methamphetamine pills and 10 kilogrammes of ya ice, or crystal methamphetamine, in Bang Pa-in and was already in police custody.
The crackdown followed a raid on Friday when police arrested Mr Sompong and another suspect and seized 500,000 methamphetamine pills, or ya ba, and 10kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ya ice, with a combined street value of about 300 million baht.
Police found 200,000 ya ba pills and 4kg of ya ice in Mr Sompong’s truck. They later discovered the remaining drugs hidden under dense grass near the petrol station, he added.
Officers said Mr Sompong confessed that he had been hired to transport drugs from Chiang Rai to Ayutthaya, taking Mrs Bayun along with him as a cover.
Pol Gen Pongsapat said police were able to decipher the code, AA999, encrypted on the illegal drugs. The first two letters tells the destination the drugs are headed to and the numbers tell who the manufacturer is.
According to the code, the drugs were sent by an international network under Yi Sae and were bound for Bangkok, the officer said.
In October last year, Lampang and anti-narcotics police seized 1.2 million methamphetamine tablets and 5kg of crystal methamphetamine at a checkpoint.
The seizure was traced to Yi Sae’s network in Myanmar.