After months of tracing and identifying the baron of a drug smuggling ring, forces from Vietnam and Laos raided the organization last month, seizing 5.5 metric tons of drugs – the biggest smuggling case ever uncovered in Southeast Asia. Noticeably, the swoop on the huge drug warehouse in a forest in Laos followed a fight that lasted for an hour but did not cost a drop of blood.
The drug ring baron, Lamphunxilaxa, 47, who is a Thai national but mainly lives and works in Laos, was arrested during the raid. From early 2015, news from detectives in Laos about Lamphunxilaxa reached the headquarters of the border guard in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh, which is close to the Lao province of Bolikhamxay. A native of Nong Khai Province in Thailand, he often resided in Laos and lived with his Laotian girlfriend, Malavanthommavong, 24. She often helped him hire locals to package coal for the ‘business’ of her boyfriend.
But the coal packing sites changed from time to time, moving from a town to deep forests.
He sometimes drove a truck carrying coal into Vietnam for sale via the Cau Treo border gate, but this product did not bring him much profit. Senior Lieutenant Colonel Vo Trong Hai, commander of the Ha Tinh border guard department, circled on a map Buavengkham Village in Paksan District of Bolikhamxay, where Lamphunxilaxa had just moved in.