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Drug baron Laota given life sentence for drug trafficking

Drug baron Laota Sanli was today (December 13) given death sentence by the Criminal Court in Bangkok after he was found guilty for drug trafficking.

However his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the drug charges in two cases.

His son, Vijarn Sanli, was sentenced to death for drug trafficking, and possession of firearms. Although he pleaded guilty to firearms possession, and denied the drug trafficking charge, the court upheld the sentence due to substantial evidence produced by the state prosecutor.

His wife, Asama, was also sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking after she pleaded guilty.
Her close aide Mrs Rapeeporn or Chanchai, alias Kai, was given life sentence when she pleaded not guilty. But the court found substantial evidence to support the drug trafficking charge.

Vijarn’s aide Baramee Barameekuakoon was also given death sentence when he pleaded not guilty.

The court also imposed fines of 2.5 million baht for Laota and his wife.

The five convicts were arrested on October 11 last year inside a petrol station in Mae Ai district when they allegedly delivered 20 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”, to undercover police.

The petrol station, named Laota Petroleum after him, is located in Mae Ai border district. Weapons were also seized during the operation. The police used 11 million baht to trap the alleged drug baron.

The arrest came after years long investigation and after informants told narcotic suppression police that Laota, who was earlier acquitted in a controversial drug case, had allegedly begun trafficking drugs again.

Laota, 80, was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2007 after being arrested four years earlier and fighting a long legal battle against claims he was involved in heroin trafficking.

The court freed him on grounds that prosecutors lacked solid evidence to punish him. However, the Civil Court ruled that his 2 million baht in assets must be confiscated, as it believed he obtained them from illicit drug trading.

It was widely believed that the ageing hilltribe man Laota used to work with Khun Sa, the notorious drug lord renowned as one of the key players in the Golden Triangle, but Laota said he only knew Khun Sa from television, not real life.

Thai PBS

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