CHIANG RAI – Thailand’s Justice Minister Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya announced crackdowns on multinational drug operations along the Mekong River will increase in their scope and reach in the third phase of operations in 2016.
Countries involving in the operations will increase from four to six, when Cambodia and Vietnam join Thailand, China, Myanmar and Laos in the operations to combat drug trafficking in the region.
Gen Paiboon was speaking at a meeting attended by representatives from country members to establish strategies for the third phase of regional drugs suppression.
Representatives from the Australian Border Force and the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes were also sent to observe the meeting.
Operations will now focus on suppressing precursor chemicals, coordinating river and land patrols, identifying targets and raids and increasing cooperation among country members, said Gen Paiboon, adding so far he was impressed by the results of the operations.
Between January to September 2015 in the second phase, 7,923 suspects were arrested in 7,329 cases. Over 652 million baht worth of drugs were seized.
Police seized: 105 million methamphetamine pills, 287kg of crystal methamphetamine, 1.9 tonnes of heroin, 25 tonnes of methylene chloride, 293kg of pseudoephedrine, 10 tonnes of ethyl alcohol, four tonnes of hydrochloric acid and 10 tonnes of alcohol.
The first phase of the operations — initiated in 2013 when the Safe Mekong Coordination Centre was set up — saw 2,241 drug suspects arrested in 1,590 cases.
Authorities seized 31 million methamphetamine pills, 170kg of crystal methamphetamine, 973kg of heroin and 226 tonnes of precursor chemicals.
Drug trafficking along the borders calls for urgent solutions, Gen Paiboon said.
Chiang Rai’s Golden Triangle, the nexus between Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, is one of the largest illicit drugs-producing areas in the world.
Each year, an estimated 673 tonnes of opium, 50 tonnes of heroin, 20 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine and more than 1 billion speed pills are produced.
Meanwhile, roughly 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals with the potential to be used in making illegal drugs are produced in the area, Gen Paiboon said.
By Kin-oua Laohong