TEMPO.CO, Bangkok – Thai authorities said Wednesday, September 21, they had arrested a Myanmar tycoon suspected of drug trafficking, who three sources say is linked to upper echelons of Myanmar’s ruling military junta.
Tun Min Latt, 53, was arrested in a dawn raid last week in the Thai capital Bangkok along with three Thai nationals on charges of conspiring to traffic in narcotics and money laundering, Thailand’s deputy police spokeswoman Kissana Phathanacharoen said.
“Police are in the process of applying to the court for pre-trial detention,” Kissana said in a phone conversation Reuters.
Corresponding ReutersThree sources with knowledge of the matter said Tun Min Latt, who has business interests in hotels, energy and mining, is a close associate of Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and has been sourcing supplies for the military.
British authorities in August sanctioned one of Tun Min Latt’s companies in what they described as “efforts to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue”.
Myanmar state media has published images of Tun Min Latt with the junta leader, including at a Bangkok arms fair in 2019.
A 2019 UN document says Tun Min Latt is the son of a retired Myanmar lieutenant colonel and that a company he partly owns made donations of about $71,500 to the Myanmar military in 2017 .
Reuters‘ Requests for comment from Tun Min Latt and its companies have gone unanswered. Calls to a spokesman for the Myanmar military also went unanswered.
In a statement, Kissana later said the police anti-narcotics unit had asked a court to extend the suspects’ detention to gather more evidence and investigate the network. He said police also seized assets worth over 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 with knowledge of Tun Min Latt’s case – who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media – said his arrest was part of a broader Thai crackdown on narcotics money laundering in the border town of Tachileik in Myanmar Shan State.
The Thai government’s Narcotics Control Board office declined to comment.
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