A poor Thai fisherman who found an extremely rare pearl worth $330k was arrested after celebrating by allegedly throwing a meth party for his pals.
Hatchai Niyomdecha, 37, invited friends over to house in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, after being offered 10 million Baht ($333k for the rare pearl.
However, his neighbours were concerned about the music and noise coming from his unkempt house on Friday afternoon (Feb 5). They could also allegedly smell drugs.
Locals contacted the police who sent armed officers to raid his property. Three packages containing an unknown substance and thousands of tablets were allegedly discovered. Several meth pipes were also allegeldy discovered inside the property.
The police seized the items – two boxes of the unknown substance and a box of oral methamphetamine tablets estimated to contain 16,000 pieces – which were hidden near the family’s home.
Hatchai denied that the boxes were his but when the police ran a forensic test on the packages, they allegedly found his fingerprint all over the boxes.
Police Colonel Chokdee Srimuang said they are investigating Hatchai over the unusual amount of drugs and also looking in his family members’ involvement, as they all live together.
He said: ‘We’ve found 16,000 tablets of meth lying around outside their house. We found his fingerprints on them after a forensic test.
‘We have been looking into his activities after he stayed at a hut near the beach where the Melo pearl was found, which we believe is the place where he used the drugs or sold them.
‘We are also investigating the family for their possible involvement as they all live in one house.’
Hatchai denied the drug allegations of possession of class 1 narcotics and conspiracy to supply but he was taken to the police station and held in custody while being questioned.
The fisherman made headlines around the world last week after he found a rare Melo pearl – one of the most expensive in the world – while picking up oysters on the shore near his house.
A wealthy businessman from China had been set to fly to meet him at his house to buy the pearl this month but his arrest may complicate the sale.
Melo pearls range from orange to tan to brown in colour – with orange being the most expensive shade. They are usually found in South China Sea and Andaman Sea off the coast of Burma and are produced by predatory sea snails called Volutidae.
The place where the Melo pearl was found, Nakhon Si Thammarat, has a coast on the Gulf of Thailand. Ocean currents from the South China Sea often lead there.