The results of the major anti-crime operation – titled ’Defeat Andaman’ – were disclosed to the media at an event at Region 8 Police Headquarters in Mai Khao on May 29.
Present in person to announce the news were several high-ranking police and AMLO officers led by Lt Gen Montree Yimyam, Special Advisor to the Royal Thai Police Office.
Speaking to the press, Gen Montree said the investigation began on October 14 last year, when Rukman Wa-ngo and Jamuharusee Binja-arong were arrested in tambon Nong Sai of Phun Phin district, Surat Thani. During the arrest, 1kg of crystal methamphetamine (ya-ice) and 1.39mn amphetamine pills (ya-bah) were seized from the suspects.
Further investigation brought two more arrests. Atchariya Chalaemwaree and Latthi Pinket were apprehended at a house in Prawet district of Bangkok on Nov 14. Police seized 300kg of ya-ice and 200,000 ya-bah pills from the two suspects.
Proceeding with the investigation further, the Royal Thai Police contacted the AMLO in order to examine the “assets and financial routes” of Mr Rukman and other suspects. The findings were impressive as it turned out that suspects had many “money-laundering routes camouflaged to avoid scrutiny from authorities in many areas across Thailand”.
At that stage police came up with the plan of ’Defeat Andaman’ major joint operation targeting specifically the unlawful wealth of the suspects, whom officers now call “a transnational money-laundering network”. Police and AMLO targeted four areas where the suspects had assets, namely Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Narathiwat.
Overall value of assets seized in the four provinces was reported as B113mn while the value of assets seized in Phuket stood at B62mn. The Phuket part included:
- Salsa Villa Limited Partnership (worth B10mn);
- P.YMN Co., Ltd (worth B5mn);
- Rubber plantation, 20 rai (worth B20mn);
- Nai Yang Bay Restaurant (worth B5mn);
- TT Shop Nai Yang Beach (worth B5mn);
- House at 82/24, Moo 5, Sakoo (worth B5mn*);
- House at 92/6, Moo 5, Sakoo (worth B5mn);
- CleanMax Phuket Company (worth B7mn);
Assets seized in other provinces included a house and a land plot in Chiang Rai (worth B1.2mn combined); a car, a house and a firearm in Bangkok (worth B8.1mn); three cars, three motorcycles, two land plots, a “D-ONE Home housing estate”, and six backhoes in Narathiwat (worth B42.1mn).
“Tracking such a big ring is difficult but still possible with cooperation of all departments, including police, military, drug-enforcement agencies, and the public,” Gen Montree said.
The officer added that the drug ring was not only big but also had connections with “some local politicians”. This is now investigated further.
*Reported as valued at B500,000 in Thai lanuage which contradicts the total value of assets seized.