BANGKOK, Thailand — The Thai government flew a former member of parliament to San Francisco on Thursday to face drug charges, setting a precedent for extraditing nearly a dozen other alleged drug barons linked to the Golden Triangle heroin trade.
Thanong Siriprichapong is the first Thai national sent to the United States under a Thai-U.S. extradition treaty--and the second suspected drug lord flown to the U.S. this week, following Monday's extradition by Mexico of alleged cocaine kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego.
In Washington, Atty. Gen. Janet Reno called Thanong, indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco in 1991 and facing life imprisonment and $12 million in fines on marijuana trafficking charges, a "major international drug suspect."
Eleven other alleged drug smugglers have been arrested by Thai police and are facing extradition.
The 11, who Washington says were senior members of a heroin-trafficking network in the Golden Triangle area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos meet, have been indicted in the United States for narcotics trafficking.