BANGKOK: The Malaysian drug kingpin dubbed "Mr T", may not be the real mastermind behind the large international drug syndicate which was busted by the Thai police several days ago, according to the country's Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB).
"Mr T", who was arrested at Hatyai airport upon his return from Chiang Rai last Wednesday, could be the right-hand man to the real mastermind of the syndicate, who the Thai authorities are pursuing vigorously following the arrest of his senior lieutenants recently.
"We (Thai authorities) will get the real mastermind," NSB’s deputy head Maj Gen Supakit Srijantaranon told Bernama recently, adding that the noose is tightening around the mastermind’s neck following the recent arrest of his senior henchmen especially "Mr T".
Besides the Johor-born "Mr T", Thai authorities also arrested a Taiwanese man and two Thai women. The Thai authorities said Supakit began to suspect the involvement of another much larger figure besides "Mr T" after conducting a comparison on his assets with the value and quantity of the drugs the syndicates smuggled into Malaysia before this.
He said the syndicate had made a total of five successful drug smuggling activities to Malaysia before faltering on their sixth attempt in March last year, when the Thai authorities intercepted 282kg of "ice" in Sadao and arrested two Malaysian men.
During investigation, the two Malaysian men who were arrested had spilled the beans on the syndicate’s operation as well as the involvement of "Mr T", whom they accused as being the owner of the smuggled drugs, he said.
The authorities believed Mr T's presence in Chiang Rai before his arrest was to place an order for another consignment of drugs.
"Each smuggling attempt involved hundreds of kilogram of ''Ice'', worth more than 1 billion Baht (about RM126 million)," according to him and added that "Mr T" has remained tight-lipped when asked by the authorities about the syndicate and his purported senior role.
"We are very confident with our evidences against ''Mr T'' and the syndicate," he said, adding that the officers involved had been working round the clock for a year gathering evidences since the arrest of two Malaysian men in March last year.
Without evidence, the authorities will not take action. They also received good cooperation from their Malaysian counterpart he said, with Malaysian police believed to be sending its officers to Bangkok to glean more intelligence information about the syndicate from "Mr T."
According to Supakit, the Thai authorities started to unravel the syndicate’s large operations following the arrest of "Mr T" and others, involving not only the smuggling of huge amounts of drugs into Malaysia but also running various businesses with Hatyai and Sadao, near the Malaysian border, as its base.
"In my 30-year career as a policeman, this is the biggest syndicate that I have come across," he said adding that, the authorities needed more time to sift through mountains of documents related to the syndicate’s drug and business operations in Thailand.
Supakit said, at least 16 companies believed to be owned by Malaysians and alleged to be related with the syndicate had been identified by the authorities, involving various businesses spanning from property, entertainment, nightclub, hotel, apartment, resort and other sectors.
The owners and managers of the companies he said, had yet to present themselves to the police for questioning about the allegations and if they failed to do so, the authorities would issue arrest warrants to compel them.
The Thai police and government he warned would not let any criminal syndicates to turn the country as their place to launder money gained from illicit activities. - BERNAMA