Four nabbed in B50m heroin bust

PHUKET: Three foreign men and a Thai woman were arrested yesterday on charges of attempting to smuggle 40 kilograms of heroin out of Thailand in a yacht.

The arrests are understood to be the culmination of a four-month international operation involving police from Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Norway and the US.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) Deputy Commissioner Pol Maj Gen Suwat Chanitthikul said that two men from Hong Kong, whom he named as Barry Chung Oi Fung, 42, and Leung Pak Long, 20, were arrested at a hotel in Karon.

He told the Gazette that the NSB had received a tip-off from the Hong Kong Police that the two men had brought the heroin, worth 50 million baht, from Bangkok to Phuket.

He said, “We arrested them when they brought two heavy suitcases out [of the hotel], and put them into their car.

“After questioning them, we were convinced that more people were involved.”

The police then went to the Yacht Haven Marina and arrested New Zealander Kerry Graeme Mitchell, 49, and his Thai wife Sangwan, 38, the owners of the 15-meter yacht Short Time.

Gen Suwat said that no evidence of crime had been found during a search of the yacht, but police still believe the couple were involved in the smuggling attempt.

Mitchell initially gave his name as Ian James Newton, and proffered a British passport. Police have since ascertained that the passport was a fake.

Gen Suwat said, “We need to do some more checking into why and how he was using a fake passport.”

The destination of the yacht and the drugs has not yet been clarified. The Gazette has learned that Mitchell applied for a visa for his wife to go to France, but that the application was rejected.

Gen Suwat said he thought France an unlikely destination for the drugs. “The boat is not big enough to take the heroin to France. We think they may have planned to take it to Australia.”

All four were taken to Bangkok and are currently undergoing interrogation at the NSB headquarters.

Phuket News
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