An inquiry is being conducted in Thailand to determine the reason why a judicial order for the arrest of a prominent politician accused of involvement in illicit drug trafficking and money laundering was cancelled by high-ranking judges.
Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun denies any connection to drug runner and arms dealer Tun Min Latt, while allegations of judicial corruption are swirling.
The press unveiled last year Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun’s business ties to the Burmese arms and drug trafficker Tun Min Latt, who was due to be apprehended in October 2022. Nevertheless, he wasn’t.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Thailand has instructed an investigation to decide whether he was shielded by corrupt individuals within the judiciary.
Infamous Drug Region
Upakit and Tun Min Latt were involved in a variety of enterprises, such as the Allure Resort casino in Tachileik along the Myanmar-Thailand border.
This particular region is notorious for being a semi-lawless ‘Golden Triangle’ which sees Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand come together at the confluence of the Mekong and the Ruak rivers. It has long been a major producer of opium and more recently the largest manufacturer of methamphetamine. It is believed that the local casinos are frequently used to launder illegal funds.
In September 2022, Thai authorities arrested Tun Min Latt in Bangkok for purported conspiracy to traffic narcotics and money laundering. It is claimed that he had converted funds acquired from drug sales in Thailand into electricity commodities, which were then exported to Myanmar through his electricity firm, of which Upakit also previously had an interest, according to Thai prosecutors.
Tun Min Latt also has commercial dealings with the Burmese military junta, which is led by General Min Aung Hlaing. He has allegedly been supplying arms to them since he came to power following a coup in 2021.
Min Aung Hlaing was accused by the United Nations of brutally suppressing protestors and deliberately carrying out genocide against the stateless Rohingya people.
Tun Min Latt’s Star Sapphire corporate conglomerate has been responsible for brokering arms deals between Myanmar and China, as well as importing Israeli reconnaissance drones for the Myanmar Air Force, based on information from Thai prosecutors.
In August 2022, the company was sanctioned by the British government in a move to “restrict the Myanmar military’s access to arms and revenue.”
Three Thai nationals were arrested with Tun Min Latt in Bangkok, one of which was Upakit’s son-in-law, Dean Young Gultula, a former director of the Allure Group.
Upakit denies having any association with Tun Min Latt. He declared that he stepped down from the Allure Group in 2019 when he was elected to Thai politics and sold his stake in the Allure Resort casino.
The Move Forward Party, an opposition group, petitioned the anti-corruption agency in Thailand, accusing Ukapit of making a false asset declaration.
They also presented evidence that appears to show Ukapit’s arrest was cancelled at the request of senior judges, after they were unsuccessful in persuading investigators to drop the order voluntarily, according to the evidence, which has triggered the Supreme Court investigation.