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Thai Customs Catch Ephedrine Mule at Airport



PIA Customs Director Montira Cherchoo (left) looks on as Customs Region 4 Director Prayut Maneechote and Phuket Airport Immigration Superintendent Assawin Naksawat discuss the arrest of Mr Katchi (seated). Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong


Chiangrai Times – Thailand Customs Officials have arrested an Indian national after reportedly finding 10 kilograms of ephedrine chemical in two of his big-sized travel bags, enough to produce over 500,000 pills of methamphetamine’s.

Officials said the 31-year-old Indian national identified as Katchi Mohamed Buhari Ahmed, was arrested yesterday at Phuket International Airport (PIA) after customs officers found his two travel bags with ephedrine sealed inside 20 briefcases.

Ephedrine is a “precursor” chemical issued to produce the drug methamphetamine, sold in Thailand in pill form and crystalline form.

The ephedrine was hidden in the lining of the 20 document satchels. Photo: Kritsada Mueanhawong

Katchi is reported to have flown from Delhi to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with Thai Airways and then on to Phuket on the same aircraft.

He admitted that he had been paid USD 5,000 by a man whose name he did not know, to carry the two bags to Thailand.

After landing in Phuket he was supposed to board a bus to Haad Yai in Thailand’s south where the two bags would be delivered to another man, local news reports said.

Officers suspected that the bags would be taken across the Thai border to a “neighbouring country” where the drugs would be manufactured.

Katchi was caught after he went to customs at Phuket airport to pay import tax for the 20 made-in-India briefcases.

Officers were suspicious, believing that this was a ploy to avoid having his luggage X-rayed.

Finding that the briefcases were unexpectedly heavy, officers cut them open and found plastic bags containing the ephedrine attached to the insides of the briefcases, covered with a layer of fabric.

Katchi tried at that time to escape by bursting out of the customs office, but was caught by another officer.

He has denied knowing anything about the ephedrine.

However, officers suspect that he may actually be quite familiar with drug smuggling; records show that he had passed through Suvarnabhumi Airport four times before being caught.

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