The Mekong River patrol team, in coordination with paramilitary rangers and border patrol police, apprehended drug smugglers in Chiang Saen Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northern border province.
The combined operation resulted in the seizure of about 3 million meth pills. The officials noticed a suspicious boat approaching the Thai shore in the village of Suan Dok, Ban Saeo sub-district, while patrolling the Mekong River in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai.
When the boat arrived in Thailand, the officials positioned themselves to investigate it. When the occupants realized the police enforcement presence, they leaped into the river to flee.
Officials quickly started a search and seizure operation, discovering 15 sacks on board with an estimated 3 million meth pills. They will broaden their investigation in order to apprehend the suspects involved in the narcotics smuggling.
Last Wednesday, police stopped a pick-up truck in Chiang Mai’s Muang district and discovered 5 million methamphetamine pills hidden beneath bags of herbal plants. Three alleged narcotics couriers were apprehended.
The operation was prompted by an intelligence report that a large quantity of meth pills were being brought through the heart of Chiang Mai in an Isuzu pick-up truck loaded with bags of snow lotus (Saussurea), also known as bua hima in Thai.
Region 5 police stopped the vehicle under the Patan bridge over the second ring road in tambon Chang Phueak on Wednesday night.
Under the bags of bua hima plants, the cops discovered 25 straw bags, each holding 200,000 meth pills, for a total of 5 million.
Nathapol, 32, Napat, 32, and Prasit, 29, three men suspected of being drug couriers, were detained and charged with possessing illicit substances with intent to sell. The drugs and suspects were turned over to Chang Phueak police for prosecution.
Drug Trafficking Enforcement in Chiang Rai
The newly constructed International Narcotics Control College (INCC) in Chiang Rai intends to teach law enforcement officers and partner organizations in the Mekong subregion to combat drug trafficking.
The institution, the first of its kind in the Mekong area, is located in Chiang Saen district, within the grounds of the Hall of Opium, nicknamed Thailand’s opium museum.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Thailand’s Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) recently introduced it.
According to Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the college will provide a chance for the ONCB and its partners to deliver innovative drug-reduction programs.
“We are looking at offering courses at the INCC in drug intelligence and analysis, border management, precursor chemical control, as well as drug policy and demand reduction,” he told the conference.
“While some will be for Thai agencies, others will involve joint training with officials from Laos and other countries.”
He added that, in addition to the INCC, the ONCB’s current Safe Mekong Coordination Center (SMCC) in Chiang Saen will continue to monitor drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle and Mekong subregion countries.
Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand form the Golden Triangle, a main opium-producing region in Southeast Asia.
Mr Douglas stated that the UNODC will assist the SMCC with activities such as drug analysis, as well as give new intelligence software and training.
“The symbolism of the INCC and SMCC being situated together in the Golden Triangle within a kilometre of the borders with Myanmar and Laos is also important and not lost on us,” he went on to say.
“While it is somewhat remote it is in many respects the perfect location.”
He believes that regional cooperation is essential in addressing the region’s drug problems and cross-border crime.
He cited meetings such as the recent Mekong MoU on Drug Control in Beijing, where Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and China, as well as the UNODC, agreed on new law enforcement measures.
He added that Asean nations had recently gathered to discuss anti-drug measures, but that Asean still needed to analyze information about fundamental causes and conditions, as well as face situations strategically.
He stated that many people’s connection with Myanmar is restricted and politically tough. Independent organizations in the country’s Shan state are not included in the conversation but are deeply involved, he continued, noting that the country’s drug problem is centered there.
“There is real urgency given the situation in Shan and border areas,” he went on to say. “Frankly, the trajectory of the situation is not good.”
“Neighbours of Myanmar, including China and Thailand, are coordinating, including with other Mekong countries and the UNODC, but the information sharing and level of cooperation needs to be more significant if real progress is to be made,” he added.