Thai celebrity 'Benz Racing' surrenders to police over drug kingpin case

Thai celebrity 'Benz Racing' surrenders to police over drug kingpin case
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Famous big-bike racer "Benz Racing", who was being sought by police over his possible links to an alleged Laotian drug kingpin, surrendered to police yesterday.

Akarakit Worarojcharoendet, better known by his racing moniker, reported to police at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) at 3.30pm yesterday as emerging evidence suggested he might be involved in laundering the ill-gotten gains of Xaysana Keopimpha's alleged drug trafficking network.

He looked calm as he walked into the NSB office with his mother and a lawyer.

His actress wife Napapa "Patt" Tantrakul was not with him at the NSB. As he talked to police, his now heavily-pregnant wife posted a video clip on Instagram showing her husband kissing her big stomach under the title "We".

Napapa and her brother, Anucha, said they believed in Akarakit's innocence.

Akarakit came forward after police searched his home and business, interviewed his wife, and went public about transactions that could link him to at least two drug suspects in Xaysana's network.

On Thursday, Akarakit was nowhere to be seen as police conducted the search and revealed his name at a press conference.

The Lamborghini Gallardo SuperLeggera that has been linked to Xaysana and Akarakit has been found at a car-care centre in Bangkok. Police are in the process of examining the supercar.

A source also said that Akarakit's car-accessory shop had operated without any licence.

Suspected drug lord linked to Thailand and Laos celebrities

Thai police arrested Xaysana, who portrayed himself as a rich and well-connected man from Laos, at Suvarnabhumi Airport last month. As the ongoing investigation into his network in Thailand expands, several more suspects have been arrested and Akarakit's name has come up.

Police have found that Akarakit conducted numerous transactions with at least two drug suspects in Xaysana's network during the past few years. The two drug suspects have already been arrested.

Police suspect that several other celebrities in Thailand might have assisted Xaysana with money laundering and asset concealment. The alleged drug lord is said to have developed ties with prominent members of Thailand's high society through the many parties he had hosted in recent years.

NSB deputy chief Pol Maj General Pornchai Charoenwong refused to elaborate on further suspects. "We can't disclose details. We are in the process of gathering more evidence," he said.

He said officials would be able to take concrete steps against other members of Xaysana's network next month.

"We will go after key network members first and we will confiscate their assets," he added.

Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissa Pattanacharoen said police would pursue culprits no matter how famous they were.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said everyone was under the law and wrongdoers would face legal actions.

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