The Thailand Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) head, Lt Gen Sommai Kongvisaisuk told Bernama has not found the Malaysian mastermind involved in a massive drug haul last year.
Bernama, the Malaysian news agency reported that nearly a year since the 21 suspected Malaysian “drug mules” were tethered by the Thai authorities, the mystery man remains hidden.
The drug gang tried to smuggle 226kg of “ice” (crystal meth or syabu) and 8kg of heroin – worth millions of ringgit – into Malaysia since March last year.
But they were stopped by the Thai narcos busters.
Yet, news of the arrest of a Malaysian in Kelantan by the local police has remained under the carpet in Malaysian newspapers.
The story was broken wide open by Bangkok Post, which revealed the arrest of a suspected major drug dealer allegedly linked to Lao drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha or Mr X.
Mr X was arrested at the Suvarnabhumi airport on a flight from Phuket.
So what is known is Kamarudin bin Awang, a Malaysian national, was arrested in Kelantan on Feb 6 and that he holds double nationality, which allows him to do cross border transactions easily.
Kamarudin is also suspected of having connections with Usaman Salaemaeng, wanted by Thai authorities on drug charges on a 2012 arrest warrant. Mr Usaman has been on the run.
A source close to the investigation told Bangkok Post the Thai police are examining the financial transactions of Mr Akarakit which will take about two weeks to complete before he is called in for further questioning.
Bangkok Post said Xaysana and Usaman are believed to have been involved in the drug trade with the ONCB offering a 2-million-baht reward for clues leading to Usaman’s arrest.
An investigation led police to believe Kamarudin is the son-in-law of Marining Jako, the leader of a drug network which receives drugs from the North and Northeast of Thailand.
Thai police are said to have been monitoring Kamarudin for five years, leading to his arrest in Kelantan.
The Thai narcotics bureau chief said he believed the money from Kamarudin’s drug trade has partially been used to sponsor the unrest in the insurgency-plagued South in Thailand.
Recently, the NSB chief told Bernama its investigations on unraveling the identity of the Malaysian king-pin ended at the Sadao border.
“Our investigations end at the Sadao border (a district near the Thai-Malaysian border),” Sommai told Bernama in a recent interview.
Sommai however, declined to elaborate on the Malaysian mastermind, leaving the issue entirely with the Malaysian police to probe deeper.
“Information gathered by the Thai side, based on interrogation of people arrested in the failed attempts to smuggle drugs into Malaysia will be relayed to the Malaysian police,” he said.
Nevertheless, he expressed concern at the seemingly brazen attempts to smuggle large quantities of drugs into Malaysia, which he suspected was intended (by the Malaysian mastermind) to be re-exported to third countries and not for local (Malaysian) use.
In April last year, a Malaysian man who was detained at the immigration checkpoint in Sadao, with 520kg of ganja hidden inside his furniture-laden lorry, told police he was paid RM1,000 for transporting the drug to Kuala Lumpur.
On Dec 11, two Malaysian men, believed to be drug couriers were nabbed in Chumphon, southern Thai, alongside 140 bars of heroin weighing 52.4kg and 41kg of methamphetamine hidden in a car they were travelling in.
Five days later on Dec 16 last year, also at Chumphon, Thai authorities scored another big success when they arrested seven Thais nationals and seized 500kg of “ice” from a trailer lorry en route to the border areas.
A high-ranking Thai drug enforcement officer believed the large haul was destined for Malaysia before export to Taiwan.