Thailand is amending a ministerial regulation so that anyone in possession of more than one methamphetamine pill, rather than 15, will be considered to have the pills with intent to sell, rather than for personal use.
Those found with 15 or fewer methamphetamine pills in their possession are currently considered to have them for personal use only and are subject to rehabilitation, according to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Monday. “This has been taken advantage of by people who intend to sell them,” he said.
The bill has been prepared by the committee on drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation and is ready for the minister’s signature. It will then be sent to the cabinet for approval before being published in the Royal Gazette.
Mr. Anutin, who is also the deputy prime minister, stated that the amendment would be a more effective legal measure against illegal drug trafficking and would help to protect young people, their families, and society.
“The committee reached this decision because we want to be more decisive and see effective law enforcement, after it was suggested that we seem to fear there is not enough room in prison for drug convicts,” the minister explained.
Mr Anutin stated that by limiting a person to one meth pill for personal use, drug dealers would no longer be able to exploit the regulation.
Meanwhile, an army patrol in That Phanom district seized 21 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine packaged as Chinese tea from the Mekong River’s bank and arrested one suspect.
Authorities said on Monday that a patrol from the Surasak Montree Task Force, led by Capt Thanachote Na Nakhon, waited on the riverbank at Ban Nakham in tambon Nam Ko on Sunday night after receiving a tip that the drugs were arriving from Laos.
Mr. Sompit Bamrungwong, 55, a laborer from Mukdahan, was arrested after arriving in a Toyota Rivo pickup to retrieve a large bag that had been left on the bank.
The bag contained 21 packages labelled Kwan Yin Wang Chinese tea, but each contained approximately 1kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ice.
Mr. Sompit allegedly admitted to being paid 5,000 baht to deliver crystal meth to a storage facility in Mukdahan.
Statistics show that seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine have increased more than tenfold in Thailand over the last two years, a stark indicator of the stimulant’s rise in industrial-scale production in neighbouring Myanmar.
Thailand is a major trafficking route for crystal meth manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states, where police say Asian organized crime groups have allied with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs”.
According to authorities, drug syndicates have distributed meth across the Asia-Pacific region, from South Korea to New Zealand and most countries in between.
Myanmar’s illegal labs also produce meth-laced caffeine tablets known as “yaba,” or “crazy pill,” in Thai. The tablets are popular among low-wage workers and poor recreational drug users in Southeast Asia.
The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, which includes northern Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, has long been a hub of illicit drug trafficking.
While opium cultivation and heroin production have declined in the last decade, methamphetamine production has more than compensated.
According to regional police, the crystal meth produced in Myanmar is the purest they have ever seen.