BANGKOK: In what appears to be a slick move plucked from the John Woo-directed Hollywood action movie, “Face Off”, one of the most notorious drug lords in Thailand is giving its drug enforcement authorities the runaround after having undergone plastic surgery to evade detection.
It is understood the fugitive could well be heading to Cambodia or Malaysia for his next “safe haven” as his current hideout in Laos is fast becoming unsafe for him, following a recent crackdown by the country’s authorities.
“Our intelligence information has shown that he has undergone facial plastic surgery to evade capture.
“But we do not know what kind of surgery he has undergone,” Thailand’s Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) head Sirinya Sitdichai told Bernama here recently.
Using plastic surgery to alter one’s facial appearance to evade arrest is not unprecedented or only confined to movies as Thai authorities found out last July, when they arrested a 62-year-old Japanese man who confessed to undergoing surgery to avoid arrest for past offences.
The man was on the run for 10 years for stock manipulation charges in Japan and was deported following his arrest in Thailand.
The Thai drug lord, listed as one of the most hunted and sought-after criminals in Thailand, has been on the run from the Thai authorities for more than 10 years.
He was believed to be in hiding in Laos where he was thought to be protected by its powerful drug syndicates.
However, following a recent crackdown by the Laos authorities, the fugitive who carried a two million baht (about RM250,000) bounty on his head has been on the run again, with either Cambodia or Malaysia as his possible safe haven, according to Sirinya.
“We have analysed all the information and he could possibly go to Cambodia, which is near Laos or Malaysia, where he still could count on his drug network (for protection),” he said of the wanted man who comes from Narathiwat in southern Thailand.
The Thai authorities had before this alleged that the fugitive carried dual Thai and Malaysian citizenship, which could explain his preference for choosing Malaysia as his next “safe haven”.
According to Sirinya, the Thai drug lord was thought to have fled the Indo-China country when Thai and Laos drug enforcement authorities strengthened their cooperation.
This saw the arrest of a Laotian who was dubbed the “Asean drug lord”, at the Suvarnabhumi Airport last January.
The noose around the southern Thai drug lord was further tightened when Laotian authorities arrested two henchmen of the “Asean drug lord” early this year and last month.
A source told Bernama that the Thai fugitive had assumed a new Laotian name, “Souk Xaysana” and married a Laotian woman, besides holding large business enterprises in the country, including being involved in a car showroom, rubber plantation, resort, as well as gold and copper mining.