By The Nation
“Our efforts intensify during full-moon parties,” Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Sirinya Sitdhichai revealed yesterday during his working trip to Surat Thani province.
He went there to follow up on the anti-narcotics operation in the province, which attracts a huge number of tourists every day.
Full-moon parties on the province’s Pha Ngan island, for example, are world-famous.
Sirinya said drug problems in the province’s villages and communities had eased after authorities stepped up crackdowns on drugs since last year. Illicit drugs, however, had continued to plague urban zones and tourist areas, he reckoned.
He said in tourist areas, it would not be appropriate to close pubs and require all patrons there to undergo urine tests.
“Those kinds of operations will only hurt the tourism industry,” he said, “So, we have opted for scrutinising vehicles heading to tourist zones instead. For example, we are keeping watchful eyes on ferry terminals.”
Deputy Surat Thani Governor Prawes Thaiprayoon said some tourists tended to think that going high was a way of letting their hair down and having utmost fun during their holidays.
“So, we are constantly monitoring full-moon parties. Each party has between 10,000 and 60,000 revellers,” he said, “So far, no one has openly abused drugs.”
Don Sak Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Sutti Nitiakarapong said each methamphetamine tablet could fetch up to Bt250 on a tourist island. In other parts of Surat Thani, each pill is sold at between Bt100 and Bt150.
“This year, we have already intercepted more than 400,000 meth tablets and eight kilos of crystal meth. Drug mules are mostly from southern border provinces and often they travel with young kids in the hope of not arousing the suspicion of officials,” he said.