PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) police raided a house in Hua Hin district on Wednesday morning, arrested a woman and seized assets worth about 200 million baht believed linked to the drug trade.
Their targets were a man named Sawang and his wife Wanphen, who are suspected of placing orders for drugs that are then smuggled into northern Thailand for southward delivery.
When the police arrived, they found Ms Wanphen and about 10 other people at the house. Ms Wanphen said some were her relatives and others acquaintances from Koh Samui in Surat Thani, who stayed with her in the house.
Mr Sawang was not in the house. Ms Wanphen said he left for Ratchaburi for a business trip a few days ago and they had not been in contact since then.
The woman admitted she was Mr Sawang’s third common law wife, but insisted she had nothing to do with the drug trade.
However, police have linked Ms Wanphen to a group of drug couriers arrested in Kamphaeng Phet with more than 5 million methamphetamine pills on March 3. They also found she had financial transactions and telephone contacts with the group.
Mr Sawang is on police record as a Thai of Hmong ethnic origin who lived in the North and had acted as a broker, ordering drugs from producers and providing teams to deliver drugs to clients at various destinations. He was aided in this by his familiarity with the terrain and delivery routes.
Two years ago, he moved to Prachuap Khiri Khan, where he opened a shop selling miscellaneous goods at 20 baht each, which police allege is a front.
Mr Sawang was earlier a suspect in the drug trade. In 2015, police seized assets from him worth about 90 million baht for examination. However, due to the lack of evidence, they were finally returned to him.
He has again been under watch for the past two years. Investigators found Mr Sawang had an usually high amount of money in circulation. With that money, he bought a commercial building worth about 45 million baht.
Police compiled their case and finally obtained warrants from the Criminal Court for the arrest of Mr Sawang, his two sons and Ms Wanphen, leading to the raid on their house in Hua Hin.
They also seized assets worth about 200 million baht for examination. They included title to 24 houses, a commercial building with five shop fronts, 12 land title deeds, 22 cars and 27 motorcycles.
The assets were bought in the names of many other people, all of them Mr Sawang’s relatives.
The Hua Hin raid was part of an operation launched on Wednesday by the NSB. The operation was directed at 30 targets – 22 in Chiang Mai, six in Prachuap Khiri Khan, and one each in Bangkok and Chiang Rai.
No details of the other raids were available.