Police bust alleged B1bn drug-money laundering operation

Police bust alleged B1bn drug-money laundering operation

Raids in Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi based on information gathered in Phitsanulok meth bust

Narcotics suppression police seize a BMW car, along with other assets, at the house of a suspect in a major drug-money laundering operation, in Muang district of Samut Prakan on Wednesday. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
Narcotics suppression police seize a BMW car, along with other assets, at the house of a suspect in a major drug-money laundering operation, in Muang district of Samut Prakan on Wednesday. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

Police arrested six people during raids in Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi and seized assets worth about 100 million baht on Wednesday, in an operation aimed at suspects in the laundering of a billion baht of drug traffickers' money.

Six premises were searched in Samut Prakan. The prime location was house 129/72 in the Chaiyapruek housing estate in tambon Bang Muang of Muang district. It belonged to Naruepol Phapphithee and his wife Patthama Buathong, who were named in arrest warrants.

Police suspect them of laundering money for several drug gang leaders, including Pannawit Prathum, aka Kokae, and Theppabut Solo, who is believed to be hiding in Myanmar but still trafficking in Thailand.

At the house police arrested Ms Patthama and detained her friend Wimol Chuenchomwathana. Mr Naruepol was arrested at a private hospital in Bangkok where he was being treated for influenza.

Police found about 18 million baht in cash in the house, as well as luxury watches and gold bars stashed  in a bag and a safe. Police believed the cash had just been withdrawn from banks. The father of Mr Naruepol said he did not know when the cash was brought into the house, but believed it came from his son's business.

Ms Patthama said the money was proceeds from her husband's online gambling business and had nothing to do with any illicit drug business. She also said her husband hired other people to withdraw money from accounts and deposit it to other accounts because he did not have enough time to it himself.

Police allege her friend Wimol opened bank accounts for the couple and was paid 15,000 baht a month to withdraw and deliver cash to their house.

Pol Col Krisada Sri-isan, a superintendent of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said the raids followed information acquired from two suspects arrested with 500,000 methamphetamine pills in Phitsanulok province late last month.

The suspects told police that drug money was stored at the house in Samut Prakan before being transferred to accounts opened at bank branches near the border.

At a house owned by Mr Naruepol's uncle, police found another 5.5 million baht in cash stored in a washing machine. The cash together with vehicles and other assets were seized. Three other suspects were also arrested in the Wednesday's raids. The seized assets were worth an estimated 100 million baht.

Police said transactions totalling more than one billion baht had passed through the bank accounts of the arrested suspects. They believed the money came from drug trafficking.

There no details available of the raid on the single premises in Nonthaburi.


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