Former Khun Sa aide arrested, 20kg of ya ice seized

Former Khun Sa aide arrested, 20kg of ya ice seized

Mr Lao Ta Saenlee, 79,(second row, wearing black) and his son Wicharn (second row, right), former sub-district chief of tambon Tha Ton in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district, are arrested together with Lao Ta's wife and 14 aides during a police operation at a petrol station in Mae Ai in which 20kg of crystal methamphetamine and some weapons seized on Tuesday. (Royal Thai Army photo)
Mr Lao Ta Saenlee, 79,(second row, wearing black) and his son Wicharn (second row, right), former sub-district chief of tambon Tha Ton in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district, are arrested together with Lao Ta's wife and 14 aides during a police operation at a petrol station in Mae Ai in which 20kg of crystal methamphetamine and some weapons seized on Tuesday. (Royal Thai Army photo)

CHIANG MAI - Lao Ta Saenlee, a former aide to the late drug kingpin Khun Sa, and his son were arrested and 20kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ya ice, and some war weapons seized from them at the family-run petrol station in Mae Ai district on Tuesday.

A team of narcotics suppression police apprehended Mr Lao Ta and his son Wicharn Saenlee, former kamnan (sub-district chief) of tambon Tha Ton in Mae Ai district, at Saenlee petrol station in tambon Tha Ton. Seized from them were 20kg of crystal methamphetamine and some weapons, Thai media reported.

Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, acting commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, later searched Mr Lao Ta’s house. Authorities would seize his assets and extended the investigation.

Police would take him and his son to the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 6 in Bangkok on Tuesday evening for further questioning.

Pol Maj Gen Sommai said police were confident that the evidence seized during the police operation would implicate Mr Lao Ta in the drug trafficking and his assets worth about one billion baht would be seized.

Thai media reports that police had acted as drug buyers to purchase illicit drugs worth 11 million baht from the two suspects. The drugs were delivered at the petrol station on Tuesday morning before police moved in to arrest Mr Lao Ta and his son. 

During the operation, Mr Lao Ta's wife and his 14 aides were also caught.

Mr Lao Ta, now 79, a former Kuomintang fighter accused of being involved in the illegal trade, denied any involvement in the narcotics trade.

Jailed for four years as he fought charges of trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons, the infamous Lao Ta was released in 2008.

Like many former Kuomintang soldiers, Lao Ta fought the communist insurgents before being allowed to live in Thailand. He has consistently denied being involved in heroin trafficking although he admitted that he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.

Mr Lao Ta wielded influence in his village and surrounding hill tribe villages.

After being released from jail, he ran a new business venture -- his own franchise of Laota Coffee shops in the North. 


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