By The Nation
Hat Yai district officials and defence volunteers at a road checkpoint on Sadao-Hat Yai road in Moo 8 village in Tambon Ban Phru upended the plans of the alleged smugglers at about 12.30am.
Officials stopped an SUV after the driver and passenger appeared suspicious. They told officials they were heading to Hat Yai to pick up relatives.
While the officials were talking to the two men in the SUV, a pick-up truck that had followed them climbed over the road island to head back in the other direction.
Officials jumped in their own pickup and chased after the fleeing truck, but it made a U-turn and sped back towards the checkpoint. Officials at the checkpoint then used another pickup to block the road.
The speeding pickup hit that vehicle and plunged into the ditch in the middle of the road. The pick-up driver was arrested and identified as Isahak Yenjai, 41, a resident of Songkhla’s Sadao district.
Officials then found 500 kilograms of kratom leaves in 69 bags in the back of the pickup.
The three suspects were taken to the Thung Lung police station for questioning. Officials suspected that the two men in the SUV were the forward team to check the road for Isahak. Officials were initially unable to identify the two from the SUV, but were probing for more evidence to link them to the smuggling attempt.