Thailand battles with record amount of drug seizures

15 Feb 2018 / 15:43 H.

BANGKOK: In just three weeks of operation which began late last month, Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) has seized nearly 700kg of drugs worth billions of Thai Baht and much more if it manages to reach the lucrative international market.
However, despite the huge seizure in recent weeks, the officers know that drug factories especially those that are located inside Wa Special Region, within Myanmar's side of the notorious "Golden Triangle", will keep on producing more, to replenish the drugs that were taken away by the authorities.
"The production of these 'drug factories' are unlimited. They produce the drugs everyday and they don't care about other things (seizures by authorities), they just keep on producing more to satisfy the demand," said NSB deputy chief Maj Gen Thanai Apichartsenee.
Not long ago he said, the NSB's operations would usually uncover between 20 and 40kg of "Ice" (Crystal Methaphetamine) but in recent times, the amount of drugs seized had shot up by 10 times to between 200 and 400kg, signalling a worrying trend about the rapidly-expanding size of the narco-trade.
According to him, the drug factories in Wa Special Region, where the Myanmar government wields limited control and armed militias roam freely were operating "non-stop", which enabled them to become one of the most productive drug-producing regions in the world.
Thanai said Thailand, as its nearest neighbour, had been turned into a transit country by the drug syndicates who were eager to ensure their "products" reached the wider international market.
He said from here (Thailand), the drugs would be smuggled to Malaysia and other countries and other "routes" were also used to ensure the drugs reached their customers in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and other markets.
"We will not let them (drug syndicates) use Thailand as a transit destination," he said, adding that efforts to stem the drug flow from the Wa Special Region and other parts of the Golden Triangle also needed help from other countries.
For several years, Thailand along with Laos, Myanmar and China have initiated the "Safe Mekong Project" to fight the drug trade along Mekong River.
According to Thanai, the NSB had also been intensifying its effort to suppress financial transactions involving suspects linked to drug syndicates, in an effort to ensure their ill-gotten gains would not be used to finance other activities.
Meanwhile, NSB's chief Lt Gen Sommai Kongvisaisuk said, the party drug "Ice" constituted the bulk of the 700kg of drugs seized during that period, while Marijuana provided the rest.
The nearly 700kg of drugs seized by the NSB did not include the almost 1 tonne of "Ice" confiscated by other branches of Thai police in different operations in southern Thailand recently, which were believed to be smuggled into Malaysia just before being intercepted.
Among the operations which attracted wide media coverage was the discovery of 300kg of "Ice" inside a lorry carrying watermelons in Nakhon Ratchasima while making its way to Yala in southern Thailand.
According to Sommai, besides drugs, NSB also confiscated 11 firearms, 173 ammunition rounds, 33 cars, 22 houses and condominiums, 27 title deeds, 19 million Baht (RM2.4 million) cash and 20 million Baht (RM2.6 million) worth of gold bars and jewellery.
A total of 63 suspects were also arrested in the three-week operation which ended yesterday, he said. — Bernama

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