Police in Thailand have arrested three suspects after discovering 32 kilograms of raw heroin hidden behind cracks in wooden crates holding jade sculptures. The heroin was destined for Australia, police said.
Theeraphong “Benz” Noothong, 27, Theeraphong “Od” Phrikbenja, 42, and Ja-eua Ja-sue, 47, were apprehended independently in Nakhon Pathom, Songkhla, and Chiang Rai.
According to Pol Maj Gen Montree Kheskhan, the commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), the suspects were wanted on arrest warrants issued by the Criminal Court on allegations of attempting to smuggle a Category 1 substance out of the country and unlawful drug possession.
CSD officers had previously received information that heroin would be smuggled out of the country in wooden crates carrying sculptures.
Their inquiry resulted in the seizure of 831 packs of heroin weighing approximately 32 kilogrammes, stashed in 11 crates of jade sculptures at a logistics firm on Phutthamonthon Sai 4 Road in Nakhon Pathom’s Salaya district.
He claimed that the narcotics, which are valued roughly 10 million baht, may fetch up to 100 million baht on the black market in Australia.
The CSD detectives then expanded their probe, shedding light on the three suspects. The drugs were smuggled from Chiang Rai province’s Mae Sai border district and were stored in Salaya before being shipped to Australia.
The accused denied all charges during questioning, but police were unconvinced. A background check revealed that Theeraphong had previously been sentenced to 22 years, 9 months, and 15 days in prison on drug charges. He was released after serving his sentence at Songkhla Central Prison.
The suspects were all turned over to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau for prosecution.
Authorities confiscated heroin last month at the Bangkok Port, hidden within packs of pain reliever patches. The drugs were also on their way to Melbourne, Australia.
In March, two Nigerian men and a Thai lady were arrested in Bangkok after 8.5 kilogram of heroin was discovered stashed into fruit cans bound for Hong Kong.
Authorities from the Airport Interdiction Task Force (AITF) and other agencies investigated 11 suspicious parcels of canned fruit at a private enterprise in Bangkok. According to the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the shipments were bound for Hong Kong.
One of the packages contained 8.5 kilograms of heroin packaged into fruit cans.
Someone later called the company about changing the delivery. The task force requested the person come and collect the parcels. According to police this resulted in the arrests of Ugorji Jordan Ibeakama, 51, and Joachin Onuabuchi Maduako, 56.
Ms. Sujitra Phuasuwan, 30, was arrested later that day in Bangkok’s Suan Luang district after further inquiry.
According to police, the arresting squad discovered no illegal narcotics on the suspects but took documents from them for investigation.
Two cars, 100,000 baht in cash, and a bank account with 60,000 baht on deposit were also seized.
Authorities looked into whether another Thai woman named as the sender on the parcels was engaged in narcotics smuggling or not.
If she was proven to have enabled the suspects to use her ID card to ship the items, she might face up to three years in prison and/or a 60,000 baht fine under the narcotics code, according to police.