By Suwannee Bundisak,
Six of the 10 suspects were identified as Surat Thani residents: Prajak Thaichana, 29, Khajornyot Thannawanichnam, 22, Wittaya Thongmak, 44, Warakorn Hita-aksorn, 32, Sirichutoima Pattarasrichana, 32, Petcharat Doungpakdee, 30. The other four suspects were: Nopparat Deediew, 32, from Phang Nga; Wilasinee Saeng-arun, 34, from Nonthaburi; Santhiti Noonsang, 30, from Nakhon Si Thammarat; and Sararat Manjai, 21, from Bung Kan – the two latter of whom were key members in the alleged drug ring, police said.
The crackdown started with the Thursday arrest of Prajak and Khajornyot at a Don Sak district checkpoint that found 1.1 kilogram of “ice” in the two suspects’ car. Police then extended the investigation to arrest their accomplices and seized additional evidence.
Police also seized assets worth Bt13.2 million, including a Bt5 million house, two buses, seven cars, Bt500,000 cash and some Bt200,000-worth of gold ornaments.
Surat Thani governor Wichavuth Jinto said police had made 30 drugs busts covering 40 suspects this year. Provincial Police Region 8 chief Pol Lt-General Sorsak Yenprem presented a sum of cash as a reward for the police officers involved in the drug bust as a show of support and to boost their morale.
Further south, Narathiwat’s Sungai Padi district chief Rungreung Thimabutre led police officers to arrest his own subordinate, territorial defence volunteer Rohim Tahae, 32, who had been implicated by previously nabbed drugs suspects as their supplier.
A search of Rohim’s home yielded 11 yaba pills and 11 bags of krathom leaf liquid. Rohim reportedly confessed to police that he was selling drugs to local youth, and was charged for drugs possession with intent to sell.
Rungreung said Rohim was the eighth rogue subordinate to infiltrate the force. Seven other territorial defence volunteers and seven policemen had been fired from the district's force over similar crimes.