BANGKOK – Thailand’s Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has intercepted more than 300 million methamphetamine pills and apprehended 177,067 suspects in 165,688 drug busts over a six month period.
ONCB secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said on Friday that during October 2018-March 2019, Thai authorities had intercepted 197.42 million meth pills in border areas from flowing into Thailand.
Proactive operations to search and arrest drug retailers and abusers led to the arrest of 177,067 suspects in 165,688 drug busts nationwide, Niyom said.
Among them were 38,711 cases, covering 45,337 suspects, that involved five key drug offences: manufacturing, importing, exporting, distributing/selling, and having in possession with intent to sell.
These ‘key offence’ busts also saw officers seize 317.85 million meth pills, 9,271.75 kilograms of marijuana, 4,916.20 of crystal meth or ‘ice’, and 10.30 kilograms of cocaine.
Niyom also said the ONCB also advanced strategies under the Safe Mekong Joint Operation Project (implemented during 2019-2022 by Laos, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) and co-operation with officials in related countries that resulted in the interception of reactant or chemical substances that are used in making narcotics.
They included 19,854 kilograms of caffeine (which could result in the production of 270-310 million meth pills) and 32,044 litres of hydrochloric acid (which could result in the production of 105,000 kilograms of ‘ice’). The crackdown – which saw narcotic-manufacturing sources in 10 locations within Chiang Rai’s Golden Triangle area destroyed – also prompted trans-national drug gangs to use the route through Myanmar’s Koh Song in Andaman Sea, where the authorities seized about five tonnes of illicit drugs.
As for the rehabilitation of drug abusers, Niyom said the ONCB had joined with 15 related agencies to establish a “harm unit” in each province to provide care to those suffering drug-addiction-triggered psychotic ailments.
So far, 80,101 drug addicts had undergone the rehabilitation programs, while 11,031 drug abusers received the harm reduction intervention services, he said.
Officials also followed-up with 76,202 people who had completed previous drug rehabilitation to ensure they wouldn’t resume the habit, and 2,413 were given additional help.
Methamphetamine Production Is Booming in Southeast Asia
In March of 2019 the UN’s Anti-Drug agency, production of methamphetamine is skyrocketing in Southeast Asia, with prices dropping and usage expanding.
Even as seizures of the drug known as speed, ice and “ya ba” in its various forms reached a record high last year, street prices have dropped, indicating increased availability, said a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The agency said methamphetamine has become the main drug of concern in 12 out of 13 East and Southeast Asian countries, up from five a decade ago. The only exception was Vietnam, where heroin is considered the major problem.
In Thailand alone, 515 million methamphetamine tablets were seized in 2018, 17 times the total amount of the drug seized a decade ago in all 13 countries combined, the U.N. agency said. Much of the supply comes from neighboring Myanmar.
By Kornkamon Aksorndech
Additional Source Bloomberg