Lao Ta's Coffee - Tha Ton.

DavidFL

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

Davidfl;268899 wrote: Lao Ta Coffee & History
Bangkok Post

The Tiger Rally 2012.
Eradicating drug trafficking is impossible and setting deadlines to clean up drugs is unrealistic, says Lao Ta Saenlee, 74, a former Kuomintang fighter accused of being involved in the illegal trade.
Jailed for four years as he fought charges of trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons, the infamous Lao Ta was released three years ago.
He is now pursuing a new business venture _ his own franchise of Lao Ta Coffee shops in the North.
Although the courts dismissed the trafficking and attempted murder cases against him, Lao Ta was found guilty of illegal possession of weapons.
Lao Ta’s name has been associated with the now deceased “Opium King” Chang Chi-fu or Khun Sa, and the current drug baron Wei Hsueh-kang of the United Wa State Army. He knows Wei, as he knew Chang, but denied any drug links with them.
He is sceptical of the government’s current anti-drug campaign.
“You cannot set deadlines in solving the drug problem. It is not possibble.
“In fact, I don’t believe you can solve the problem,” Lao Ta said in an interview recently at his village coffee shop in Ban Huay Sarn of Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district.
“The rich want the drugs and the poor traffic them,” he said.
Lao Ta predicts heroin prices will increase this year, as adverse weather conditions in Burma are likely to hit opium production.
He also predicts that trafficking and the use of new drugs will increase.
Pornthep Eam-prapai, director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in the North, says the number of addicts and small-time sellers there has increased 30-40% over the past three years.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke to drug authorities in the North recently when he expressed concern over drug addiction and use of drugs among youth, especially in Chang Mai and Chiang Rai.
In response, authorities are now monitoring places where youths tend to gather, such as internet shops and cafes, entertainment spots and karaoke lounges, and student flats and housing.
They are also monitoring the movements of suspected sellers and traffickers, Mr Pornthep said, adding that many new faces had popped up in the drug trade. About 100 individuals are being monitored _ including Lao Ta.
Lao Ta says the war against drugs led by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was too severe, as officials abused their authority.
“No one agreed with it. They gave police too much power and this led to abuse across the country. They killed over 2,000 people,” he said.
The Abhisit government has launched a probe into deaths under Thaksin’s war on drugs.
“When I was in jail, many hilltribe villagers who visited me complained about the abuse,” Lao Ta said.
“Abhisit is not decisive but his approach to the drug problem is better. His government has launched its own campaign, but it is not violent. At least the Abhisit campaign lets the judicial process take its course,” Lao Ta said.
Like many former KMT 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 admits that he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.
And he has his own theory as to why he was the target of Thaksin’s war against drugs which resulted in him being jailed for four years.
”Because I worked for the Thai government and fought against the communist insurgency, certain members of the Thai Rak Thai Party, some of whom were former insurgents, wanted revenge. They wanted to get me,” he said.
Another reason is that he refused to lend Thai Rak Thai any political support.
Lao Ta wields considerable influence in his village and surrounding hilltribe villages.
”They know the hilltribe people of my villages and I do not support them because they are former insurgents.
”They also asked for my support in local and district elections, but I refused. That’s why I was bullied,” he said.
”I never thought I would be arrested for trafficking, as I have never been involved in heroin trafficking.
”if I ever meet him [Thaksin] I don’t think I could control myself,” he said.
Lao Ta's Coffee is on R1089, 15 kms north of Tha Ton.

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and THE MAN HIMSELF

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

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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.
 
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Johpa

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Aug 22, 2005
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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.
 

Johpa

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Aug 22, 2005
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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.

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

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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.

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DavidFL

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Johpa;288011 wrote: 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.

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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.
 

Johpa

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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.
 

DavidFL

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"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.
 
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ianyonok

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

DavidFL

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


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.​
 

DavidFL

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Life imprisonment for old drug kingpin Lao Ta

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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
 

ianyonok

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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.
 

DavidFL

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The trade in Lao Ta's village has still been going on & more family members have been nabbed.
Saenlee is the family surname for Lao Ta's family..


Eight nabbed in Chiang Mai on suspicion of drug trafficking

Police raided targeted locations in Chiang Mai’s Fang and Mae Ai districts to arrest eight drug suspects and seize 220 assets worth Bt150 million to see if they were sourced illegally.

The eight suspects, for whom arrest warrants were issued on August 23 for possessing methamphetamine with intent to sell, are Preecha Saenlee, Amnat Saenlee, Somjet Saenfu, Prinya Meun-apai, Siriwan Wongsa, Supakorn Pansawat, Natthapong Meun-apai and Chaowasit Kaewkongma.

The seized assets include an office registered under Wannasiri Partnership Limited in Mae Ai and another in Fang, as well as five commercial buildings, 22 plots of land, Bt324,280 in cash, 47 cars, three backhoes, seven motorcycles, one yacht, three guns, six gold ornaments, four horses and 45 pigs.

Police said the gang had operated in a similar way to the two drug-trafficking gangs in the North that had seen its members being arrested in four different drug busts. The first bust was on May 8, 2016 in Lampang province in which two male suspects were nabbed with 15.5 kilo of heroin; second on the same day in Chiang Mai’s Fang district in which a man and a woman were caught with 2.28kg of heroin; third on November 14, 2018 in Narathiwat province in which four suspects were nabbed along with 18.88kg; and fourth on May 11, 2019 also in Narathiwat in which a man and woman were nabbed with 7.6kg of heroin.​

Source: Eight nabbed in Chiang Mai on suspicion of drug trafficking
 

ianyonok

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...still going on....

I made the mistake of buying petrol at his petrol station once. The most expensive petrol anywhere at the time. It was about 8 Baht more per litre than back in Mae Chan.
 

DavidFL

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The end of Lao Ta..?

12 December 2019.

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Court upholds sentences for drug baron Lao Ta and son

The Appeal Court on Thursday upheld the lower court's sentence of life imprisonment for drug baron Lao Ta Saenlee and a woman accomplice, and the death penalty for his son and a male accomplice.

They were earlier convicted of collusion in the sale of about 20 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, caught in a "sting" by undercover agents in Chiang Mai three years ago.

Lao Ta’s wife was also involved and given life imprisonment, but she did not appeal.

The court’s ruling was read out at the Criminal Court.

Lao Ta, 80, and four others - his wife Asama, 70; Ms Rapeekan Saimul, 60; his son Wicharn Saenlee, 43, a former kamnan of tambon Tha Ton; and Buramee Barameekuakul, 40, all from Chiang Mai - were named as the first to fifth defendants in the case brought by public prosecutors on charges of drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms.

The five defendants were arrested in Chiang Mai in 2016. A plainclothes policewoman first contacted Lao Ta's drug broker and ordered about a kilogramme of crystal meth. Lao Ta delivered it at a petrol station he owned, and his wife received the agreed 550,000 baht in payment.

Police later placed a larger order, for 18.8kg, and were quoted 11 million baht. The arrest was made on Oct 11, 2016, 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.

On Dec 13, 2017, the Criminal Court found the five defendants guilty on drug trafficking and weapons charges. Lao Ta and his wife confessed. The court commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment and reduced her life imprisonment to 25 years. The couple were fined 2.5 million baht each.

The lower court also sentenced the third defendant, Rapeekan, to life imprisonment and a fine of five million baht.

Lao Ta’s son Wicharn and Baramee denied the drug charges. They claimed they were only supervising the petrol station. The lower court found them guilty and sentenced them to death.

The first defendant appealed, seeking a reduction of the sentence. The third, fourth and fifth defendants appealed and insisted that they had not been involved. The second defendant did not appeal.

Lao Ta, Wicharn and Baramee were taken from Bang Kwang Prison to the court on Thursday to hear the judgement. Rapeekan was taken from the Central Women's Correctional Institution to the court.

The Appeal Court upheld the lower court’s sentences.​

Source Bangkok Post
Court upholds sentences for drug baron Lao Ta and son
 

ianyonok

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It certainly looks like the end. Harsh sentences upheld. Seems they are being made examples of, to discourage others.
 

DavidFL

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The story goes on..

Drug baron's sons get death

Two sons of convicted drug baron and former Kuomintang fighter Lao Ta Saenlee were sentenced to death on Wednesday by the Criminal Court for drug trafficking and money laundering.

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Preecha and Amnart Saenlee, both sons of Lao Ta who was sentenced to life in 2017 for selling 20kg of crystal methamphetamine, were among five people found guilty of heroin trafficking and money laundering.

The three others were Somjate Saenfoo, Parinya Muan-apai and Siriwan Wongsa. Three more people, Supakorn Parnsawat, Natthapong Muan-apai, and Chawasit Kaewkongma, were sentenced to life in prison for aiding and abetting in the drug trafficking and money laundering activities.

Initially the court handed down death sentences to all the defendants but commuted the sentences of the last three because they gave useful information during interrogation. All eight were arrested in September 2019 following a police investigation into heroin trafficking from Chiang Mai's Fang district to Narathiwat's Sungai Kolok district and money laundering activities.

According to prosecutors, Preecha and Amnart had about 12 kg of heroin in their possession and had previously arranged for the smuggling of other shipments down South between May 2018 and May 2019.

The others assisted them in the smuggling and laundering the profits. The laundered assets with an estimated worth of 200 million baht were confiscated following their arrest and included real estate. All the defendants except Siriwan denied the charges during interrogation. They were denied bail after their arrest and were taken from prison to hear the ruling.

On Dec 13, 2017, the Criminal Court convicted Lao Ta, his wife Asa Ma Saenlee, and two of his other sons on drug trafficking and weapons charges, following their arrests in 2016.


Source Bangkok Post