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Celebrity race driver in trafficking raid spotlight

BANGKOK: Speed racer Akarakit Worarojchroendet, 30, alias Benz Racing, the husband of TV actress Napapa “Patt” Tantrakul, says he will report himself in to Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) police today (Feb 3) to clear up doubts over his alleged connection to the arrested Lao drug kingpin, Xaysana Keopimpha, 42.

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By Bangkok Post

Friday 3 February 2017, 09:03AM


Yesterday (Feb 2), a combined team of more than 450 NSB and Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) officials raided 15 spots in Bangkok and 25 others in other provinces, tracking down assets supposedly linked to the alleged drug lord.

Among the 15 spots raided was a six-storey apartment on Soi Inthamara 51 in Din Daeng district of Bangkok that doubles as a home and a shop selling auto accessories called Area 51, which is owned by Mr Akarakit. .

Police found nothing illegal during the six-hour search, and neither did they find a B20-million Lamborghini car they were looking for, said Lt Col Arnanchak Kanoknoppawat, Deputy Chief of the NSB’s Division 1. The car turned up later in the day.

Police have learnt from suspect Natthaphol Nakkham, alias Boy, who was arrested on Wednesday (Feb 1) in connection with the Xaysana drug network, that the Lamborghini belongs to the drug network but was left in Mr Akarakit’s care, said Lt Col Arnanchak.

A temporary red plate, Tor 5555 Bangkok, was found, but not the car. Two pistols, one with a licence and the other without, were seized, along with about 15 bullets. Other items seized for inspection included six motorcycles. A motorcycle licence plate, 4 Kor Sor 6071 Bangkok, owned by Mr Natthaphol, was also seized.

Police said CCTV footage at the house showed the Lamborghini was driven away by an unidentified man at 9pm on Wednesday, while Mr Akarakit was seen leaving the apartment on a motorcycle about 1am yesterday.

Maj Gen Pornchai Charoenwong, deputy NSB commissioner, said an arrested suspect told them Mr Akarakit had in his possession some cars and motorcycles suspected to have been acquired through drug dealing by Mr Xaysana’s network. He said Mr Akarakit was only a person of interest as more evidence was required to confirm his involvement.

Lt Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, Chief of the NSB, said Mr Natthaphol told police Mr Akarakit is trusted by the Xaysana gang to take care of its assets.

Police want Mr Akarakit to come forward with an explanation regarding the information. A media report said police had contacted his parents, who had arranged for their son to report to police today.

If Mr Akarakit can prove his legal ownership of the Lamborghini and other assets, they will be returned to him, said Deputy National Police Chief Chalermkiat Sriworakhan.

Sirinya Sidthichai, Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), said the authorities do not have sufficient evidence to prove Mr Akarakit is connected to the drug network.

However, if he is later proved to be the caretaker of the gang’s assets, Mr Akarakit will likely face charges of colluding with the network, said Lt Gen Sommai. At this point, he said, ownership of the Lamborghini had been legally transferred to Mr Akarakit.

Police later yesterday seized the Lamborghini after someone alerted them about the car’s whereabouts. It was later found at a garage in Ram-intra area.

Police arrested Xaysana at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Jan 19 when he arrived on a flight from Phuket.

They believe he is an influential person behind at least three major drug cases in which Malaysians were arrested travelling south with crystal methamphetamine (ya ice) to be smuggled into Malaysia.

Police also learned Xaysana had about 100 drug networks throughout the region. Some produced drugs themselves, but were not capable of exporting them like Xaysana, Lt Gen Sommai said.

“Known only as a luxury car broker, Xaysana is actually an important drug dealer who is known not only in Asia but also Europe and Britain. A number of actors and actresses, celebrities and even men in uniform are involved with this drug network,” he said.

In another raid also carried out yesterday in Nonthaburi, he said police detained Chaiwat Chusai with about 20 kilograms of ketamine with a street value of about B13 million.

This suspect allegedly confessed to being hired for B14,000 a month to serve as a caretaker of a house which was was designated as a place to store smuggled drugs before they were distributed to customers.

By day, Chaiwat worked as an ambulance driver for an unnamed hospital, said Lt Gen Sommai, adding that by night he moonlighted as a drug dealer taking the drugs to customers.

Actress Patt, meanwhile, re-posted a Facebook message by her publicist, Keng Brightup. The publicist urged the public to wait for her husband to come forward. Patt should not be disturbed at the moment as she is due to give birth in the next 10 days.

Read original story here.

 

 

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