Lao Ta's Coffee - Tha Ton.

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member


    From ON THE TRAIL OF A MULE - A Drug Run Through The Golden Triangle.

    Lao Ta's Coffee is on R1089, 15 kms north of Tha Ton.






    as happy & relaxed as can be in his petrol station, adjoining Lao Ta's Coffee.


    it must be 25 years since I've met the man.
    In those days his Lisu guesthouse was famous as an overnight stay in a then remote Lisu hill tribe village.
    And my memories were of all the Lisu guys sitting around, playing cards & drinking with their automatic weapons right by their side.

    Lao Ta is an amazing guy, & there should be a movie about him, such has been his colourful life.
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
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  3. Johpa

    Johpa Ol'Timer

    Glad to see that Lao Ta's village still has beautiful young women strolling about. Give me a few weeks and I will try to convert some of my old slide images of Lao Ta and his village taken in the early 1980s and post them to this thread. Now Lao Ta is no saint, but he has always been kindly to me and his extended family has long been friends with my wife. That being said, to this day I know enough to be rather discreet and circumspect when speaking about the gentleman.
  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Great Stuff David, Myself, Richard and others always make sure to stop here when We take a Ride up to CR. Great History, Thanks!
  5. Johpa

    Johpa Ol'Timer

    Well I will try to post some pics from slides I recently converted into digital form. Not sure if this is going to work as at the bottom of the page it notes I do not have permission to post attachments and there are no buttons visible to attach pics. Anyways this is Lao Ta, wearing the blue blazer on the left circa 1983. There used to be an annual parade in front of the Amphur in Mae Ai showcasing all the ethnic minorities in the district, still today one of the most diverse districts in the Kingdom and the district where the trekking industry began once they built the bridge in Thaton around 1978.


    Below are some pics I took up at Lao Ta's village during the Lisu New Year, again circa 1983.








    This last one is my long time friend Na Hae, from the neighboring Karen village where I was living. I forgot what a beautiful woman she was in her middle ages. I have several other pics of Muang Ngaam from when I was partnering with the owner of the Karen Coffee Shop of yore, which was a guest house that served no coffee. If interested I could convert those images and post in a separate thread.

    • Like Like x 2
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Whoa, those were the days eh Rande?; & what an "innocent" chracter Lao Ta was then, with his Lisu Guesthouse was a famous trekkers over night stop.
    Thanks for the memories.
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Moderator Staff Member

  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah he is still alive. I saw him last week when I stopped for a coffee. His health is not the best & memory is not great either.
  9. Johpa

    Johpa Ol'Timer

    I was up attending a funeral in Muang Ngaam a few months ago and went over for a visit and was talking to him for about 30 minutes. I has not seen him in nearly 20 years. He was busy watering the plants in front of the coffee shop. His health seemed OK, not nearly as robust as seen in the 2011 article, and his vision was not so good as I was showing him some of the old pics I posted above. He did not remember me and only barely remembered my wife although his kids and my wife were good friends. He complained about being poor, where upon I laughed out loud. I believe his daughter in-law is now the Kamnan of Thaton and a son is the head of the tambon administrative office, so his family is in tighter control of that border neighborhood than when I first met him over 30 years ago.

    By the way. that is not Laota in the first pic in my post (#4) but another village leader of that era.
  10. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Wonderful old photos...... and yet... it seems some things haven't changed that much. Thanks for the pics.
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    "Unbelievable". Lao Ta has been busted again...11 October 2016

    Former Khun Sa aide arrested, 20kg of ya ice seized

    Former Khun Sa aide arrested, 20kg of ya ice seized

    CHIANG MAI - Lao Ta Saenlee, a former aide to the late drug kingpin Khun Sa, and his son were arrested and 20kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ya ice, and some war weapons seized from them at the family-run petrol station in Mae Ai district on Tuesday. A team of narcotics suppression police apprehended Mr Lao Ta and his son Wicharn Saenlee, former kamnan (sub-district chief) of tambon Tha Ton in Mae Ai district, at Saenlee petrol station in tambon Tha Ton. Seized from them were 20kg of crystal methamphetamine and some weapons, Thai media reported.

    Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, acting commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, later searched Mr Lao Ta’s house. Authorities would seize his assets and extended the investigation.

    Police would take him and his son to the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 6 in Bangkok on Tuesday evening for further questioning.

    Pol Maj Gen Sommai said police were confident that the evidence seized during the police operation would implicate Mr Lao Ta in the drug trafficking and his assets worth about one billion baht would be seized.
    Thai media reports that police had acted as drug buyers to purchase illicit drugs worth 11 million baht from the two suspects. The drugs were delivered at the petrol station on Tuesday morning before police moved in to arrest Mr Lao Ta and his son.

    During the operation, Mr Lao Ta's wife and his 14 aides were also caught.

    Mr Lao Ta, now 79, a former Kuomintang fighter accused of being involved in the illegal trade, denied any involvement in the narcotics trade.

    Jailed for four years as he fought charges of trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons, the infamous Lao Ta was released in 2008.

    Like many former Kuomintang soldiers, Lao Ta fought the communist insurgents before being allowed to live in Thailand. He has consistently denied being involved in heroin trafficking although he admitted that he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.

    Mr Lao Ta wielded influence in his village and surrounding hill tribe villages.
    After being released from jail, he ran a new business venture -- his own franchise of Laota Coffee shops in the North.
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  12. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    One billion Baht of assets....... I just don't believe you can make that much running a coffee shop and petrol station........!
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    ha ha more assets seized
    Another B2bn assets seized from Lao Ta family

    28 October 2016
    Another B2bn assets seized from Lao Ta family

    CHIANG MAI - Some 2 billion baht worth of assets belonging to the family of alleged drug lord Lao Ta Saenlee has been seized in a joint operation on Friday morning.
    More than 250 officers from Provincial Police Region 5, Northern Border Narcotics Suppression Centre, border patrol police and soldiers raided 57 target locations in search of drugs and illegal stuff.
    The operation was led by Pol Maj Gen Poonsap Prasertsak, acting commander of Provincial Police Region 5.
    The sites allegedly belong to the network of Mr Lao Ta, which include Wicharn Saenlee and Baramee Saenlee.
    At a house in Moo 10, tambon Tha Torn of Mae Ai district, the authorities are still in the process of examining assets, which included more than 100 land title deeds of the Saenlee family.
    At a construction materials shop in Ban San Ton Mue in Mae Ai district, 25 vehicles have been seized pending examination of fund sources.
    The authorities also put up a sign on Mr Lao Ta's 40-rai coffee plantation to inform the public that it had been seized.
    Altogether, the confiscated assets under examination were worth two billion baht.
    Mr Lao Ta was arrested earlier this month for alleged links to foreign syndicates supplying drugs to Malaysia and Australia, according to the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).
    The ONCB said Mr Lao Ta's drug ring was among 60 influential narcotics networks in the country, half of which had been cracked down.​
  14. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    "The ONCB said Mr Lao Ta's drug ring was among 60 influential narcotics networks in the country, half of which had been cracked down".
    The Remaining 30 must be doing very well at the moment then Ha Ha!
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Life imprisonment for old drug kingpin Lao Ta


    The Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced former Kuomintang fighter Lao Ta Saenlee, 77, to life imprisonment, and his son to death, for selling about 20 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or "ice", to undercover agents in Chiang Mai province last year.

    Lao Ta and the four other defendants were arrested in a sting operation. Plainclothes police ordered the drug from them at Lao Ta's petrol station in tambon Tha Ton of Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district on Oct 11, 2016.

    Public prosecutors arraigned the five people in December, on charges of drug trafficking between Sept 20 and Oct 11 last year.

    The court was told a plainclothes policewoman who spoke Yunnan Chinese first contacted Lao Ta's drug broker and ordered a kilogramme of crystal meth. Lao Ta delivered it at his petrol station and his wife Asama, 67, received the agreed 550,000 baht in payment.

    Police later placed a larger order, for 20kg, and were quoted 11 million baht. The arrest was made on Oct 11 during the delivery at the petrol station where Lao Ta, his family and associates were present. Police also seized military grade firearms and ammunition from them.

    Lao Ta and his wife confessed. The court commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment and reduced her life imprisonment sentence to 25 years. They were fined 2.5 million baht each.

    Rapeekan Saimul, the 58-year-old drug broker who told the court she had sold fertilizer, was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined 5 million baht.

    Lao Ta's son Wicharn Saenlee, 42, who was a kamnan, and Baramee Barameekuakulsap, 39, denied the drug charge and claimed they were only supervising the petrol station. They were sentenced to death. Public prosecutors said they carried firearms and guarded the drug deal.

    The all had been denied bail since their arrest. They said they would appeal.

    Lao Ta was known formerly as an aide to the late drug kingpin Khun Sa. He has consistently denied being involved in heroin trafficking though admitting he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.

    Source: Bangkok Post 13 December 2017
  16. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    The long arm of the law finally caught up with the old man and his gang. He'll probably consider that at his age, he has had a pretty good run.

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