Major drug gang 'boss' busted on Samui

Major drug gang 'boss' busted on Samui

Suspected drug kingpin Sompong Ruangsri (right) talks to Surat Thani govenor Witchawut Jinto during a media briefing on his arrest in Muang district in Surat Thani on Sunday. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Suspected drug kingpin Sompong Ruangsri (right) talks to Surat Thani govenor Witchawut Jinto during a media briefing on his arrest in Muang district in Surat Thani on Sunday. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: A man nicknamed "the boss", believed by authorities to be a major drug dealer based on Koh Samui, has been arrested after being hunted for a year.

Sompong Ruangsri was arrested in Tha Sala district on Friday on charges of selling crystal methamphetamine on Koh Samui, provincial governor Witchawut Jinto and provincial police chief Apichart Boonsriroj announced on Sunday. Two cars, gold necklaces, two luxury wristwatches and 10 bank accounts have been confiscated, they added.

The arrest of Mr Sompong followed two crackdowns on drugs on the resort island last year, which led investigators to believe a man known as "the boss" was a key figure in the network. Investigators later determined "the boss" was Mr Sompong, 63, who operated rental van services under the name of Ruangsri Group on Bo Phut.

The authorities did not give further details on the suspect's arrest in Tha Sala.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart said Mr Sompong had been convicted on heroin charges and assets worth 10 million baht seized in 2002. After being released from jail in 2011, the man set up a network on Koh Samui to sell drugs.

The Surat Thani police chief suspected he had connections with influential figures and officials to shield their illicit business. A warrant for his arrest was issued by the Samui Provincial Court on Jan 16 this year.

Mr Witchuwut said any officials found to have links with the gang will face stern action.

When police took the suspect from the provincial police office in Muang district to Ruangsri Group, which was also used as his home, they found a black Alphard parked in the same parking space. The van was used by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha when he visited the island on Sept 13.

The owner of the Alphard, who wanted to be identified only by Por, said on Sunday the van was not associated with Mr Sompong. It was only parked in the same area as the suspect's house, he said.

A source at the Narcotics Control Board said it planned to seize additional assets belonging to Mr Sompong and his gang. The anti-drug agency suspected he used the van rental business to launder dirty money.


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