Four police officers have been sidelined to inactive posts after a young driver was arrested for the alleged possession of ketamine – in reality, his mother put camphor powder in his car to deodorize it.
The police officers were harshly criticized on Thai social media following the bungled drug arrest.
The chief of Samut Prakan police, Pol Maj Gen Chumphon Phumphuang, ordered their transfer to the provincial police operation centre, pending further inquiries.
An incident was brought to light after a woman complained on Jan 7th that her younger brother was wrongly arrested for allegedly possessing ketamine.
She said her brother was on his way to Pak Nam when his car was stopped for a search by police at a checkpoint around 11 pm in Samut Prakanjust south of Bangkok.
When the officers searched his car they found a plastic bag of “white powder” in the front glove compartment. The police officers quickly detained and handcuffed the young man for allegedly possessing ketamine.
The young man insisted he never used illicit drugs, but the police officers refused to believe him.
As soon as he was arrested, he called his family and told them he had been charged with drug offences. His mother and sister arrived shortly afterwards at the police station.
When his mother saw the sachet of white powder the arresting team claimed was ketamine, she realized the truth. Her explanation was that it was camphor powder, which she bought from a shop and put inside the car to eliminate bad odours and treat headaches.
A police spokesperson on Wednesday confirmed the incident and said a team of crime suppression police had set up a checkpoint near Soi Sukhumvit 109. The police officers said they saw a car holding back from entering the checkpoint.
The police officers walked up to the vehicle, asked to search it and found the small bag of white powder in the glove compartment. They confiscated it for examination, but the man became nervous and called his relatives to say the police had accused him of possessing illicit drugs.
A urine drug test was conducted on the motorist, and the results were positive. Subsequent tests, however, proved negative. The spokesperson said the arresting police officers admitted to making mistakes in the urine tests and in seizing the powder.
Following the incident, Pol Col Arthit signed an order that police volunteers should stop helping with drug-related tasks.
There were reports that police volunteers were also involved in the arrest and search of the motorist. They were also accused of slapping him around during his arrest.