Thai drug dealer gets plastic surgery to look like ‘handsome Korean man’ to evade arrest

Thailand’s police have apprehended a suspected drug dealer who allegedly underwent extensive plastic surgery to disguise himself as a “handsome Korean man” to avoid capture.

Local media have compared the case to the 1990s Hollywood film Face/Off, in which John Travolta and Nicholas Cage play an FBI agent and criminal respectively who swap faces using an experimental procedure.

Saharat Sawangjaeng, 25, who adopted the Korean alias Seong Jimin, was arrested last week at a condo in Bangkok on suspicion of importing and possessing MDMA, also known as an ecstasy drug.

According to local media reports, Mr Sawangjaeng underwent a series of surgeries that altered his facial features beyond recognition. The police released mugshots to demonstrate the stark contrast between his original and altered appearance.

Witnesses in the case described him as “a handsome Korean man”, and police were said to be taken aback when they arrived to arrest him because “none of his original face was left”.

The suspect also changed his name to a Korean name and had been on the run for three months before being apprehended by police. He was found by following the distribution of ecstasy to other sellers and buyers in Bangkok.

Mr Sawangjaeng admitted to purchasing MDMA on the dark web with cryptocurrency.

He had been arrested at least three times before and had escaped detention each time.

The police discovered 290 ecstasy pills and 2kg of liquid narcotics in his possession one time. He had undergone extensive surgical procedures to avoid investigators and was planning to start a new life in South Korea despite the fact that he did not speak the language.

“I want to start a new life. I am bored of Thailand,” he said in a video of the arrest.

Thai Police major-general Theeradej Thammasutee described Sawangjaeng as “one of the main causes of Bangkok’s MDMA epidemic”, adding that “he is a drug lord importing MDMA from Europe at just 25 years old. We believe there are more suspects in foreign countries. We will continue our investigation.”

The Thai government has been cracking down heavily on crimes like drug trafficking and use in recent years. Due to its location and porous borders, the country remains a major transit hub for illegal drugs.