CHIANG RAI -Thailand’s Minister of Justice Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya, has reported the establishment of “The Safe Mekong Coordination Centre” with Mekong Nations Myanmar, Laos and China have set up a joint centre to prosecute and block illegal drug smuggling drug smuggling along the Mekong River.
Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya has said The Safe Mekong Coordination Centre will operate for three months. China, Myanmar and Laos each assigned two officials to join officers from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Army and Interior Ministry.
The four Mekong countries agreed to rotate hosting of the centre. China launched the first joint facility in Yunnan province last year.
The SMCC has been established to continue the international cooperation on the drug network suppression in the Mekong region. The SMCC will act as the informant center for drugs in each nation. Their data and information will be considered by the anti-drugs agencies that will operate to suppress and eliminate the core drug network.
Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya said Thailand alone could not solve the drug problem on the river as much contraband is smuggled in from neighbouring countries. Help from its neighbours was crucial to resolving the crisis, he added.
China, led by the China National Narcotics Control Commission, has taken the lead in campaigning against drugs in the area after 13 Chinese sailors were murdered in 2011 on two cargo ships carrying 920,000 methamphetamine tablets. The bodies were dumped into the river about 25 kilometres north of Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai, near the border with Myanmar and Laos.
Lao authorities arrested Myanmar drug kingpin Nor Kam and his gang in 2012 and extradited him to China on murder charges. He was sentenced to death in 2013 by China’s highest court.
Beijing has demanded joint patrols on the Mekong since the killings and stepped up its role to combat drug-trafficking along the river used to transport goods between Kunming and the three downstream countries. Traffickers have taken growing trade opportunities to carry out their lucrative, illegal business by transporting drugs on cargo ships.
CNNCC deputy secretary-general An Guojun promised a serious effort to crack down on drugs, as three million Chinese citizens are addicted to methamphetamine pills, crystal methamphetamine and heroin. He admitted factories in China produced precursors and they are being targeted by authorities.
Myint Thein, deputy secretary-general of the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, called for other countries to wipe out the widespread substances used to make illicit drugs.
The Myanmar officials said ethnic-minority groups were to blame for the drug problem in Myanmar.
“Once we have evidence pointing to any groups involved in drug production, Myanmar authorities use decisive measures against them,” he said.
Bounpone Sirivong, deputy secretary-general of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Suppression, joined the launch of the centre on Thursday.
By King-Oua Laohong, NNT