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Lao drug kingpin with celebrity links gets 2nd life sentence

September 26, 2018
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Laotian drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha exits a prison bus after arriving at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. The Ratchada Criminal Court in Bangkok on Wednesday initially handed Xaysana a death sentence for smuggling a million methamphetamine pills from Laos to southern Thailand and Malaysia but reduced his punishment to life in prison because he cooperated during police investigations. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Thailand has given a second life sentence to a drug kingpin from Laos whose social connections to various celebrities were exposed by his arrest.

Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Wednesday initially gave Xaysana Keophimpha a death sentence for smuggling 1 million methamphetamine pills from Laos to southern Thailand and Malaysia, but reduced his punishment to life in prison because he cooperated during the police investigation.

The same court in March had handed Xaysana a life sentence over the smuggling of 1.2 million methamphetamine pills from Laos after a group of traffickers identified him as the leader of their network.

Xaysana’s case drew great attention when he was arrested last year because of unproven suspicions that some Thai celebrities with whom he fraternized were implicated in his activities.

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