British businessman, 38, arrested after ‘using Bitcoin to smuggle drugs into Thailand with DJ girlfriend’
A British businessman is facing life in prison after allegedly using Bitcoin to smuggle drugs into Thailand and sell them with his DJ girlfriend.
Mitesh Govind Varsani, 38, is said to have used the dark web and the notoriously untraceable cryptocurrency to order party drugs cocaine, ketamine and Ecstacy to his luxury villa in Chiang Mai province.
The substances were allegedly imported under the guise of shipments of solar panels before Varsani sold them on messaging apps and to tourists in bars with the help of his lover Siripon Suntonjamorn, 32, who worked as a DJ.
Undercover police said they were tipped off about the racket and joined the group chat on the app ‘Line’ where they ordered 8,000 baht (173 GBP) worth of cocaine and 3,000 baht (65 GBP) worth of ecstasy from the couple.
The sting operation was then done when Mitesh and his girlfriend arrived at the agreed meet up place with the drugs where they were arrested on Wednesday (Aug 4). They also allegedly seized cannabis along with 10 bank books.
Mitesh, who runs a solar panel installation business, admitted dealing drugs but claimed he was raising money to help people struggling the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. He said he had donated more than a million baht (21,689 GBP) to good causes including poverty-stricken children, animal charities and battling forest fires.
He added: ‘I was only selling the drugs to people who were older than 30-years-old and I never sold them to youngsters. I always shared some of the profits to people affected by the pandemic just like the English hero Robin Hood.’
Officers dismissed the suspect’s claim he was a modern-day Bitcoin Robin Hood and remanded him in custody while he was questioned on suspicion of drugs offences.
They said his girlfriend was a famous DJ in the region well-known for her work in bars and nightclubs.
During police questioning, Mitesh allegedly said he smuggled the drugs from Europe and paid to his supplier using Bitcoin through his solar panel installation business.
Deputy Commander-in-Chief Tawatchai Pongwiwattanachai said the drugs hustle had been going on for at least a year.
The police chief said: ‘Before the entrapment, our team carried out surveillance on the couple and found they lived in an expensive neighborhood.
‘After gathering enough evidence we found a way into their group chat and tried buying drugs from them. The two accused suspects were fooled by our operation and one showed up with the drugs at a hotel. We arrested him first and his girlfriend.
‘These drugs are not widely available in Thailand but there is a demand in the entertainment culture, so the suspect imported them from Europe. He bought them by paying with Bitcoin and them imported them through his company.
‘The suspects were not co-operative but we will find out the full extent of their drugs business to add the evidence to the prosecution.’
Officers said they had charged the Brit with ‘illegal possession with intent to sell and distribute’ drugs but were also investigating his bar worker girlfriend and searching the couple’s home before more charges could be added.
Under Thai law, the manufacture, import or export of morphine, opium or cocaine carries a jail term of between 20 years and life and a fine of between 2,000,000 baht and 5,000,000 baht.