Lao celebrity faces drug links grilling

The Narcotics Control Board (NCB) is preparing to question Lao celebrity Sisouk Daoheuang who was recently arrested by Lao authorities for alleged links to compatriot and drug kingpin suspect Xaysana Keopimpha.

Officials who detained Sisouk in Luang Prabang on Saturday found no drugs in his possession but an ongoing investigation suggests the celebrity is suspected of having “conspired with others to trade drugs”, NCB secretary-general Sirinya Sitthichai said yesterday.

His arrest follows collaboration between Thai and Lao drug officials. The Lao authorities were given information by their Thai counterparts which implicates Sisouk in a drug network in connection with two Lao nationals arrested earlier — Mr Xaysana and Khonpasong Soukkaseum.

“A check on Mr Sisouk’s financial information found links with a drug production site” connected with Mr Xaysana and Mr Khonpasong, Mr Sirinya said.

Mr Xaysana, who is accused of masterminding many drug rackets in Southeast Asia, was apprehended by Thai officials at Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan 19.

NCB officials are asking Lao authorities to jointly question Sisouk, hoping to get information to track down other drug suspects.

The Narcotics Suppression Bureau will also send police to join the NCB in the questioning expected to take place next week, said deputy bureau chief Phonchai Charoenwong.

An initial probe found “Mr Sisouk sent drugs via Thai drug gangs to the South and exported them to Malaysia”, Mr Sirinya said.

Sisouk is well-known among Lao celebrities and frequently appears at events held for wealthy people. He is a rich businessman who owns a stable of racehorses and owns shares in luxury car companies in the Lao capital of Vientiane and the northeastern province of Nong Khai in Thailand.

Sisouk earlier admitted he knows Mr Xaysana but said he has nothing to do with any drug networks.