CHIANG RAI – Authorities from four countries have intercepted drug precursors destined for the Golden Triangle and intended to make 30 million methamphetamine pills in their latest crackdowns on Thai and foreign drug gangs.
The notorious drug-producing region near the Mekong River is constantly on the target list of the Thai Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) in its drug war, ONCB secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said on Tuesday.
Over 54% of narcotics seized in Thailand are smuggled in via the northern territories, he said.
In its recent campaign, which ran from Oct 1 to Dec 31 last year, about 1,000 officials from Thailand, China, Myanmar and Laos jointly confiscated two tonnes of drug precursors as they were being carried to the Golden Triangle. This was enough to produce 30 million speed pills.
Thai and Myanmar authorities earlier launched an operation to “seal off” the Golden Triangle by blocking the chemicals from being trafficked into its drug production sites and, at the same time, preventing drugs from being transported out of the area, which covers 959,000 square kilometers.
“This is our pro-active, anti-drug operation outside the country,” Mr Niyom said.
Domestically, authorities seized up to 200 million speed pills and impounded 243 million baht worth of suspects’ assets, marking an increase from three years earlier, Mr Niyom said.
A total of 90,000 suspects were nabbed and 30,000 drug addicts sent to the state-run rehabilitation program.
According to Mr Niyom, meth pills are a major concern as they are the most widespread narcotics in Thailand. Crystal meth, or ya ice, is likely to be further transported in foreign countries.
“We’re also keeping a close eye on ketamine [ya k] due to it being so widespread at night entertainment venues,” he said.
The Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) is helping the ONCB monitor drug couriers who transport the items through mail services offered by private companies.
The firms are being asked to install security cameras at their service points and ask senders to identify themselves and pack parcels there so staff will know what types of items they are sending, Isoc spokesman Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.
Meanwhile, Narcotics Suppression police and soldiers have recovered a total of 2,850,000 methamphetamine tablets in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai Province.
Pol.Lt. Col. Chinnapat Sarasin, the commander of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau told Thai media that they received a tip that a shipment of narcotics would be entering Thailand near the Thai-Myanmar border.
Police and soldiers at a roadside check point flagged a Isuzu pickup with Bangkok plates to stop but it sped away causing officers to give chase.
The driver of the truck lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a roadside ditch, upon exiting the vehicle the drive and passenger opened fire on police and soldiers.
After the gun fight ended officers found the body of one of the drug runners about 7 meters away from the crashed pickup along with a .38 caliber hand gun.
Police said the other occupant fled into the cover of darkness.
Upon a search of the crashed Isuzu pickup officials found19 sacks containing about 150,000 methamphetamine, totaling of 2,850,000 amphetamine tablets.
By King-oua Laohong
The Bangkok Post