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Drug clan caught in nationwide raids

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Drug clan caught in nationwide raids
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Joint Army and police raids at scores of locations in nine provinces yesterday uncovered about Bt100 million in suspected ill-gotten assets owned by an influential drug-dealing family.

Security sources said the simultaneous raids would be used as a model in an all-out anti-narcotic effort under the supervision of the military rulers.

The operation will target people who are not involved directly in drug dealing but willingly possess the ill-gotten assets of drug dealers in an attempt to prevent them being seized.

Yesterday’s raids were conducted at 61 locations in Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phetchaburi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Chai Nat, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Pathom and Songkhla, where assets such as homes and luxury cars belonging to the sae-Tern family are located. There were 10 arrests.

Deputy national police chief General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said the raids were the result of a drug bust in March in which Kornthong Leesaikerd, a member of the Sae-Tern family, was arrested and three million amphetamine tablets and five vehicles that were used to transport the pills in Phetchabun were seized. It was discovered the pills were smuggled into Thailand from a neighbouring country through Loei province.

Sae-Tern is Kornthong’s original surname.

The family mainly buys and resells pills and other drugs to buyers based in Central Thailand, Pongsapat alleged.

He said that Chiang Mai was an operational base of the family, with a woman identified as Koi Chew sae-Tern coordinating the operation. He said a related raid was conducted earlier in Phetchaburi at the home of Thitiphong Honechaiya, a drug suspect, which resulted in his arrested along with two women.

A large number of items owned by him worth around Bt20 million were seized, including five cars, plus cash from four bank accounts, four handguns and four rifles. An apartment and a poultry farm was also been seized.

Pol Maj-General Putthichad Ekkachan, a senior anti-narcotics commander, said the sae-Tern family had successfully transported drugs on three occasions, delivering around 5.7 million amphetamine tablets to buyers.

Thitiphong, Sawitree Srisawas and Ann Chuangchoo were local operators for the clan in Phetchaburi, he alleged.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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