Tuesday, June 22, 2021

in-focus

Thailand tracking drug-smuggling rings after busts in Australia, South Korea


The Justice Ministry has joined hands with foreign agencies in a bid to crack international criminal rings smuggling drugs from Thailand to foreign markets, Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said on Monday.

The move comes after Australian and South Korean authorities recently intercepted large shipments of drugs from Thailand.

“Australian police submitted information on 316 kilograms of crystal meth found on a cargo ship from Thailand on May 8 in Sydney, which enabled us to track down the suspects behind the smuggling operation,” said Somsak. “We now know that the drugs were sent from Mukdahan to the South of Thailand before being shipped overseas in electrical appliance boxes.”

He added that Thai authorities are also cooperating with South Korean police after a Thai smuggler was found with over 4 kilos of methamphetamine at Incheon Airport in Seoul earlier this month. Further investigation revealed this shipment was heading for “phi noi” or little ghosts – Thai illegal migrants.

Phi Noi refers to Thais who enter a foreign country, often as tourists, but stay there to work once their visas expire.

“We also found that these buyers are using new methods to order drugs such as mobile applications, online delivery and private couriers, as well as paying with bitcoin, which makes it harder for officials to track them down,” added Somsak. “This prompted the ministry to work closely with foreign agencies to stay ahead of the drug dealers.”

The minister pointed out that Thailand is a prime target for drug syndicates because it hosts the Golden Triangle along with convenient transportation routes by air, sea and land.

The Golden Triangle, covering the mountainous borderland of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, is thought to be one of the world’s largest producers of methamphetamine and opium.

“Since 2019, we have seized an increasing amount of drugs in Thailand – significantly higher than the amount that slipped through and reached destination countries such as Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong,” the justice minister said.

Heroin and methamphetamine account for most of the drugs seized, he added.

Published : June 07, 2021

By : THE NATION