Two men were arrested on charges of smuggling 220 kilograms of compressed marijuana into northeastern Thailand from neighbouring Laos. According to Naval police they said they did it because they needed money after the Covid-19 outbreak left them jobless.
The arrests was made after authorities received a tip-off that a drug gang planned to smuggle marijuana from Laos into Nakhon Phanom. A navy patrol spotted two suspect vehicles travelling along the route and stopped them at the Don Sawan intersection.
When they searched the car, they found 220 bricks of compressed marijuana stuffed inside five sacks.
Authorities also seized their Toyota Vios car and an Isuzu pickup from the pair. Capt Surasak Suwankesa, commander of a naval unit in Nakhon Phanom said the seized marijuana could fetch between 25,000 and 30,000 baht per kilogram.
During the interrogation, the two suspects confessed that the drugs had been smuggled across the Mekong River from Laos. They had been hired for 20,000 baht to take the marijuana to Ubon Ratchathani Province. Once there another group of drug couriers would pick it up the Bangkok Post reported.
Khamdaeng Chanhom, 47, and Phon Joralee, 48, both from Ubon Ratchathani, are in custody pending further legal action. Police said the pair claimed they were made jobless during the Covid-19 outbreak and had no choice but to deliver the drugs.
Authorities said they would expand their investigation to find others involved. The Naval police also noted that marijuana smuggling appeared to be on the increase.
During the past two months, more than two tonnes of marijuana have been seized in Nakhon Phanom. Last year, about 8 tonnes of marijuana were seized in the northeastern province.
1,374 drug arrests in Northern Thailand
Authorities in northern Thailand, have arrested 1,374 suspects and seized drugs worth 535 million baht in a three-month crackdown from April to June. According to the regional Army commander they estimate that this year they can confiscate narcotics worth 1.5 billion baht.
Two major arrests made recently by anti-narcotics officials, police and soldiers netted a total of 10 million meth pills, authorities he said.
On Thursday, soldiers from the Pha Muang Task Force and police from the Chai Prakan police station in Chiang Mai pulled over a suspicious pickup for a search and found 4 million speed pills. The driver was arrested and charged.
In Den Chai district of Phrae on the same day, soldiers stopped a six-wheeled lorry and when they had it x-rayed, they found 6 million pills hidden under rice husks.
Investigators said the suspect confessed that he was smuggling the pills from Phayao province to deliver to a middleman in Phitsanulok.