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Deputy Prime Minister Proposes New Prison Strictly for Drug Dealers



More than 60 per cent of Thailand's prison inmates are serving sentences for drug convictions


CHIANGRAI TIMES – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung plans to propose a budget to build a prison especially for drug convicts in Si Khiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Mr Chalerm floated the idea yesterday on the “PM Yingluck Meets the People” programme on television Channel 11. He was appearing in place of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Joining the deputy premier on the programme were Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong, in his capacity as director of the national drug suppression centre, and Pol Gen  Adul Saengsingkaew, the deputy police chief acting as secretary-general of the Office the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

Mr Chalerm said drug suppression was an urgent policy of the government, adding that technical knowledge alone could not solve the drug problem, which also required effective operations.

He also warned drug dealers that stepped-up government suppression was not their only worry. The harder the government cracks down on drugs, the more killings occur among dealers as players in the illegal trade try to silence potential sources information to authorities, he said.

Of the illicit drugs available in Thailand, he said only 5% were produced domestically while the rest were smuggled into the country, mostly via eight northern provinces – particularly Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.

Therefore, it is necessary to block trafficking routes from the North and the Northeast to reduce supplies, said Mr Chalerm, who is in charge of national drug suppression.

If the prison for drug convicts is built in Nakhon Ratchasima as proposed, warders would be screened very carefully, and should be offered extra income to reduce the temptation of corruption, he said.

The prison should also have telephone signal jamming devices to prevent inmates from contacting their drug networks, he added.

Pol Gen Priewpan said two x-ray machines would soon be used at two spots in the North to scan for drugs being transported through checkpoints.

Pol Gen Adul said eight units had been deployed to block the transport of drugs and precursors for drug production along the border.

The OBCB has set up 60,000 communities against drugs throughout the country, provided treatment for 400,000 drug users, and run a programme to prevent 4 million young people in high-risk groups in 10,000 schools from using drugs.

Methamphetamine is the most common of all drugs used in the country while the number of users of ice or crystal methamphetamine is rising along with the number of drug pushers.

Therefore, cooperation from the people against the spread of drugs is needed, said Pol Gen Adul.

He asked people with information on the drug trade to call the ONCB hotline on 1386.

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