Phuket

Phuket police break open multi-million-baht drug network

PHUKET: Phuket Provincial Police yesterday presented four suspects arrested for dealing millions of baht of drugs that were delivered from Bangkok by bus.

Presented as evidence at a press conference today were more than 19,000 pills of ya bah (methamphetamine) and 120 grams of ya ice (crystal methamphetamine), as well as two illegal firearms and two cars.

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit named the four suspects as Inrum “Lee” Jaevo, 36; Sarawut “Bird” Tanragun, 28; Songwut “Ake” Tang-uthai, 37; and Somkid “Bow” Prateepthong, 38.

All four were arrested in less than 24 hours on Monday, starting with Mr Inrum, who was taken into custody at a house in Rassada at about 3:30pm, Maj Gen Patchara explained.

“Officers found 6 grams of ya ice in his possession,” Gen Patchara said. “He told police that he sourced his drugs from Mr Sarawut, who was arrested at a house in Wichit less than three hours later.”

Police found Mr Sarawut in possession of about 50 grams of ya ice, about 1,000 pills of ya bah and an unlicensed .38 handgun. They also seized his Toyota car as evidence.

After questioning Mr Sarawut, police next arrested Mr Songwut at a rented room in Soi Hong Leng Uthit, near Surakul Stadium, at about 9:30pm.

In his room officers seized about 50 grams of ya ice and about 3,800 pills of ya bah, Gen Patchara explained.

Mr Songwut told police that he sold the drugs with his partner, Mr Somkid, who police arrested at a house on Thepkrasatti Road in Koh Kaew, just south of the Heroines Monument, at about midnight.

In the house, officers found 16,000 pills of ya bah that were pre-packed in bundles of 2,000 pills each.

They also found an unlicensed 11mm limited-edition Colt handgun with 62 bullets in a closet, and officers seized his brand-new Honda sedan still sporting red dealer license plates.

Mr Somkid confessed that the drugs were delivered from Bangkok by bus for him and his now-arrested accomplices to sell in Phuket.

The drugs were shipped to him by his supplier, who he named only as “Je Na”.

His latest delivery was 22,000 ya bah pills for which he was to pay 2.2 million baht.

“This time I received 11 packs of ya bah [with 2,000 pills per pack], but I sold three packs before I was arrested,” Mr Somkid told the press.

“This batch was brought to Phuket by a man on a bus which arrived at the Phuket bus terminal [on Thepkrasattri Road] on November 9. I picked up the drugs myself.”

Mr Somkid explained that he had been selling drugs for five months, but added that he also ran a small coffee shop in Wichit.

“That shop is now closed,” noted Gen Patchara.

Mr Somkid admitted that he had already spent time in jail on a drugs charge, and that he was released from jail three years ago.

“I learned of Je-Na while I was in prison,” he told the press.

Gen Patchara vowed to bring down the rest of the drug network.

“We will continue our investigation until we catch this ‘Je-Na’ in Bangkok, and we will arrest every person who is involved in this network,” he said, adding that this included at least three people who opened bank accounts that Mr Somkid paid drug funds into.

Mr Inrum and Mr Songwut were charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell, while Mr Sarawut and Mr Somkid were both charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell and with possession of an illegal firearm and corresponding ammunition.

“The number of drug cases on the island is on the rise, and we will hunt down these criminals with whatever clues we have,” Gen Patchara said.

“If any person has any information about a drug network, please let us know. We will be glad to receive any information about it. Do not be afraid, we know what to do.”

— Natthaphol Wittayarungrote

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