Laotian Times reported that reputed Lao drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Thai police this week. Over 100 officers were involved in the arrest as the suspects were returning from Phuket. The Thai police noted in a statement that over the last 5 years, they have already arrested 50 individuals working under Mr Xaysana’s networks. They are believed to have smuggled over five million ya ba (methamphetamine) tablets into Thailand from Laos.
As an interesting point of historical context ya ba tablets have been illegal in Thailand since 1970 when they outlawed following several horrible bus accidents. They were formerly sold at gas stations and were commonly used by long-haul drivers to stay awake, and are combination of caffeine and methamphetamine which degrade cognitive functions over time with extended use. There were concerns it was spreading into the Israeli club scene as well as some club scenes in the US as a replacement for ecstasy. It was initially used in early forms to help horses pull heavy loads up steep hills and other labor intensive work in Shan State.