Thailand arrests Myanmar military-linked businessman suspected of drug smuggling

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BANGKOK — Thai authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested a Myanmar tycoon suspected of drug trafficking, who three sources said was linked to the upper echelons of Myanmar’s ruling military junta.

Tun Min Latt, 53, was arrested in the Thai capital Bangkok in a dawn raid last week with three Thai nationals on charges of conspiracy to traffic narcotics and money laundering, the carrier said. Deputy Thai police spokesperson Kissana Phathanacharoen.

“The police are asking the court for pre-trial detention,” Kissana told Reuters by phone.

Three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Tun Min Latt, who has business interests in hotels, energy and mining, is a close associate of Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and bought army supplies.

British authorities sanctioned one of Tun Min Latt’s companies in August in what they called an “effort to limit the army’s access to arms and income”.

Myanmar’s state media published photos of Tun Min Latt with the junta leader, including at an arms fair in Bangkok in 2019.

A 2019 UN document says Tun Min Latt is the son of a retired Myanmar lieutenant colonel and that a company he co-owns had donated around $71,500 to the Myanmar Army in 2017.

Reuters requests for comment from Tun Min Latt and his companies went unanswered. Calls for a Myanmar military spokesperson also went unanswered.

In a statement, Kissana later said the police’s anti-drug unit had asked a court to extend the suspects’ detention to gather more evidence and investigate the ring. He said police also confiscated assets worth more than 200 million baht ($5.4 million) from the four suspects.

Myanmar’s military seized power from the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021 and has since sought to consolidate power through a deadly crackdown on the opposition.

A source familiar with the case of Tun Min Latt – who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media – said his arrest was part of a wider Thai crackdown on money laundering. narcotics money in the border town of Tachileik in Myanmar. Shan State.

The Thai government’s office of the Narcotics Control Commission declined to comment.

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