3 police and celebrities linked to Lao drug lord

PHOTO: Xaysana Keopimpha's Facebook

At least three policemen are facing investigation after being recognised in photos alongside alleged Lao drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha.

Two more celebrities, meanwhile, will be summoned for questioning in relation to the expanding investigation into Xaysana's alleged drugs network in Thailand. Famous motorcycle racer Akarakit Worarojcharoendet, better known "Benz Racing", was the first prominent figure to have his name linked to Xaysana.

National Police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda had ordered probes into reported links between three Thai police and Xaysana, Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said yesterday, in his role as deputy spokesman of the National Police Office.

The investigations will start based on pictures showing the policemen posing alongside Xaysana, who was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport last month on drugs charges.

"The probes will determine what kinds of connections these police officers have had with the alleged drugs kingpin," Krissana said.

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Meanwhile, deputy chief of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) Pol Maj-General Pornchai Charoenwong said police would summon two more celebrities for questioning. "But I can't disclose details yet," he said.

Xaysana had portrayed himself as a rich and well-connected man from Laos, throwing many parties in Thailand and acquainting himself with well-known celebrities and other influential figures in recent years.

Suspected drug lord linked to Thailand and Laos celebrities

  • Xaysana Keopimpha, an alleged drug warlord from Laos was arrested in Bangkok on January 19 after police were tipped off that he and three other people were flying in from Phuket.
  • According to Thai police, his network has cultivated unprecedented connections, with celebrities both in Thailand and Laos believed to have assisted him with money laundering and asset concealment.
  • “He had portrayed himself as a rich man from Laos. When he came here, he threw parties inviting entertainment figures and celebrities from many other fields of Thailand as guests. After the ties developed, he used them for money laundering,” said police.
  • His Facebook account shows only sporadic activity, with his latest post being an update of his profile photo on December 19.
  • But a few photos show selfies taken with luxury cars such as Lamborghinis and Mercedes-Benzes, which appear to have been taken at his house in Laos.
  • Xaysana, known in Laos as Hia Lop, was born in Khammouane province of Laos, opposite Nakhon Phanom’s Ta Uten district in Thailand.
  • Social network users have been accustomed to seeing photos of Xaysana posing with the country’s celebrities and young family members of politicians.
  • Famous Thai bike racer “Benz Racing”, who is married to a well-known actress, is the first celebrity to be exposed as an alleged accomplice in Xaysana’s network in Thailand.
  • Akarakit Worarojcharoendet, who is better known as “Benz Racing”, is married to Thai actress Napapa “Patt” Tantrakul, who is pregnant.
  • Police suspect that several celebrities in Thailand might have assisted Xaysana with money laundering and asset concealment.
  • Napapa’s elder brother, Anucha Tankrakul, said yesterday that Akarakit had talked to him over the phone and denied any involvement in the drug trade.
  • Akarakit Worarojcharoendet reported himself to police at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) at 3.30pm Friday. Accompanying him was his mother and a lawyer.

As the ongoing investigation into Xaysana's alleged network has grown, police suspect that some celebrities in Thailand assisted him with money laundering and asset concealment.

Akarakit was the first Thai celebrity to be implicated in the scandal. His home and car-accessory shop were searched last week and he turned himself in to the NSB last Friday.

According to Akarakit, he does not know Xaysana personally but had borrowed Bt6 million from Nattapon Nakkam, who was recently arrested for allegedly facilitating drug deals for Xaysana.

"Nattapon and Akarakit have provided conflicting information about the purpose of the Bt6-million loan," Pornchai said.

He also said Nattapon and Akarakit had transferred money back and forth for more than one year. "In this period, there were also some suspicious deposits in Akarakit's bank accounts," Pornchai added.

Asked about reports that Xaysana's network may have also involved the children of former politicians, Pornchai said relevant authorities would look further into the details.