Bt350m drug network in Nakhon Si Thammarat prison

August 16, 2012

An Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) investigation into money transactions among Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison inmates has found a network worth Bt350 million linked to 300 bank accounts.

Investigators suspect the drug-dealing networks among the prisoners could have a cash flow of at least Bt1 billion.

The AMLO has extended the investigation to prison officials allegedly involved in or gaining from the drug dealing and is hunting for bank accounts opened for drug activities. AMLO chief Sihanart Prayoonrat yesterday reported that one five-inmate network at Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison had opened five main bank accounts linked to some 300 other bank accounts, resulting in Bt350 million flow from drug trafficking.

The initial analysis of transactions found the involvement of prison officials in the network and bank accounts, he said. Most money-transferring transactions were made to Nakhon Si Thammarat on 1,214 occasions worth Bt33 million. But the rest were scattered among other bank accounts in provinces, including Surat Thani, Songkhla, Rayong and Bangkok. “The drug dealing from behind bars, especially in Nakhon Si Thammarat, comprises many networks and gangs and the trade value is estimated to be around Bt1 billion,” he added.

On August 21, when ministerial regulations on anti-money laundering come into effect, Sihanart said the drug-dealing networks would no longer be able to hire others to open bank accounts for their drug money laundering.

He said the agency was investigating five maximum-security prisons -Bang Kwang Prison, Khao Bin Prison, Khlong Prem Prison, Khlong Phai Prison and Rayong Prison – for drug dealing gang activities.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court yesterday sentenced a former Bangkok policeman to death for having yaba in his possession with intention to sell.

Former Police Senior Sergeant-Major Pairoj Wongsrikaew was arrested last January while driving a car in Phetchaburi’s Ban Lad district with 120,000 yaba tablets hidden in modified compartments. He claimed he had been hired for Bt200,000 to drive the car to an address in Nakhon Si Thammarat without knowing the vehicle had drugs on board. The court found his statement was not convincing. He was found guilty and given the death sentence. In related news, the Appeals Court cancelled the seizure of two asset items worth Bt8,000 in the drug trial of Chiang Rai orange orchard owner Anek “Sia Olarn” Sudirat, 54.

However it allowed 73 assets worth millions of baht to be seized following the lower court’s ruling on January 20, 2009.

Anek was indicted by the public prosecutor in 2005 for possession of Bt1.35 million, and the case went for trial before the Supreme Court. Anek was sentenced to a 50-year jail term and Bt5-million fine by the Appeals Court while his wife and daughter were acquitted and received bail pending an appeal.

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