2020 sees the roaring twenties of the Thai drug industry: Police did not know of drug kingpin 24-year-old ‘Jimmy’ Wongpan before September last year but by December, they had smashed his flourishing drugs empire and arrested his key associates. Meanwhile, a 20 and a 16-year-old were arrested this week for selling drugs on Twitter via an account with 3,000 followers.
On December 22nd last, Thai police in Saraburi arrested a 24-year-old drug kingpin involved in ฿1.2 billion drug deal and later seized a bank account with ฿800 million cash. At the other end of the scale, this week, a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old accomplice were arrested for selling ya ice via Twitter. It’s a whole new drug war for Thai police and officers of Narcotics Suppression Bureau as they try to tackle Thailand’s drug boom.
The Thai drug dealing business is currently experiencing a boom with lower prices, more users, particularly on the internet and bigger deals. Today, drug deals in Thailand are being routinely conducted not for millions of baht but billions.
Those involved in the trade are increasingly younger and while more people are being caught in police stings and raids, they only represent the increased activity as drugs flood the country and drug use among younger people has taken off.
Police arrest drug kingpin after a 2-week pursuit across 7 provinces by narcotics supression officers
Last Saturday, police caught up with a drug kingpin in the Muang district of Saraburi. ‘Jimmy’ Wongpan or Pannathat Wongpan was arrested with two of his known associates, 23-year-old Thawatchai Kaewmanee and 22-year-old Natthapol Ratchathani. The trio was nabbed by police outside a car leasing premises. The boss, Mr Jimmy, is only 24 years old.
฿1.2 billion in drugs seized during the arrest
The media were briefed this week by Police Lieutenant General Visanu Prasattongosoth, an assistant commissioner with the Royal Thai Police.
At the scene of the arrest, police seized over ฿1.2 billion worth of drugs comprising of 6 million speed pills and 600 kg of ya ice or crystal methamphetamine which is currently the big seller in Thailand and worldwide.
Police revealed that the 24-year-old had ฿800 million in his bank account when arrested as well ฿25 million in properties in addition to 5 cars and 2 motorbikes.
Police – ‘Jimmy is a major drug trader’
‘Jimmy is a major drug trader. He takes orders, acquires huge amounts of narcotics and arranges for their delivery. His network stretches from the Northeast into neighbouring countries,’ Lieutenant General Visanu told the press. He has used that money to fund his passion for modifying sports cars,’ he revealed.
Fast-changing landscape of Thailand’s roaring drug world where the range of drugs and use is growing
The fast-changing landscape of Thailand’s new drug world and war can be seen from the revelation that up to September 2019, Thai police knew nothing about Mr Jimmy and his gang reaping massive profits.
The lead that gave police deep intelligence on his drugs empire came when police intercepted a ฿400 million or 319 kg shipment of ya ice in Nakhon Ratchasima that month.
Led police to a ฿400 million seizure in Nakhon Ratchasima and arrest of a senior gang member
This led police to track a member of the gang named as Natthawut Sanglert in Nakhon Ratchasima on October 7th last which led to the seizure of 105 kg of heroin and 300kg of ketamine.
The arrested man turned police informer and revealed details of the key figure behind Mr Jimmy’s drugs gang as well as routine delivery times and schedules.
Operation launched on December 22nd to track down the drugs boss and bring him into custody
Police then launched a huge operation on December 22nd across 7 provinces including Bangkok, Saraburi, Lop Buri, Ang Thong, Nakhon Sawan, Suphan Buri and Ayutthaya to arrest key gang members and its leader. The search culminated with the successful arrest and seizure on Saturday.
20-year-old man arrested for selling drugs in Twitter
On the other end of the scale, Police Lieutenant General Visanu together with Police Lieutenant General Chinapat Sarasin of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau this week also announced the arrest of a 20-year old and 16-year-old selling drugs on Twitter.
‘Big Drug Seller’ on the social media platform
The wannabee drug kingpin had set up a Twitter account with the message in Thai which read: ‘Yaba seller hit me up and tell me which chemical.’ Police also discovered another account which in Thai identified itself as: ‘Big drug seller’.
3,000 followers – drug holiday promotional offers
Police named the arrested 20-year-old as Muhammad Sobri Sasu while the 16-year-old man’s name was withheld. Both accounts had over 3,000 followers and published details of drug promotions and special offers for the holiday period.
Police seized 5 smartphones from the men as well as a bankbook and 2 ATM cards.
Young men claim it was attempted fraud
In their defence, the young men told police that the Twitter account and its content was merely a scam to lure users into paying money.
Police suspect that some of the transactions may have indeed have been fraudulent but that drug orders were taken and paid for by money transfers through Thailand’s advanced internet banking system.
Many of these orders were delivered via normal post in Thailand which is operated by Thai Post and the country’s booming network of courier services.
Online comments mocked the police and the law
Police were also disturbed by the tone of the comments online from the drug dealing account which regularly mocked and made fun of the Royal Thai Police and the country’s drug laws.
The arrested men also claim that the money they made from their drug-dealing operations online was intended to fund their own drug habits.
Police are still investigating the case while the suspects are being held in custody. They will face serious charges relating to their drug dealing activities.