Stolen trucks, motorcycles, drugs, endangered species of wildlife, as well as wine, liquor, sandstone, rosewood, all these goods slip into Thailand along the long Mekong river border with Laos.
Special squad cracks down on 'river of sin': The Thai-Lao length of the Mekong is a hotbed of criminal activity by Wassana Nanuam
A crack police squad is on a mission to suppress trans-border crime syndicates preying on the bustling trade across the Thai-Lao length of the Mekong River
The river has seen several crossings by a wide range of criminal gangs, from car thieves and drug smugglers to wildlife traffickers. The gangs have taken advantage of the river's great length to evade authorities
I admit it's very difficult to cope with these illegal activities along many sections of the long river," said Suwat Tumrongsiskul, head of the Centre for Suppression of Illegal Marine Merchandise.
The centre's task is to patrol rivers and coastal waters and crack down on illegal movements of goods and people.
Pol Gen Suwat said his priority was to tackle crime taking place along the Mekong; the crackdown will focus on the stretch of the river bordering Laos.
The centre will coordinate with other branches of the police to conduct an integrated suppression of illegal gangs.
The centre collaborates with the Central Investigation Bureau, Immigration Police Bureau as well as investigation subdivisions in seven Mekong-bordered provinces: Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani.
The provinces have been transit points for the smuggling of illegal items between Laos and Thailand.
Smuggled goods across the border include stolen cars and motorcycles, drugs and wildlife products. Large quantities of consumer goods have also been seized, such as wine and liquor.
Different goods are smuggled into the country through different provinces, Pol Gen Suwat said.
Stolen motorcycles and cars, mostly pickups, are usually smuggled through Chiang Rai and Loei into Laos, he said.
Drug trafficking is done via Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai. The most common drug trafficked is marijuana, which is grown in Laos and transported to Thailand over the friendship bridges or by boat across the Mekong.
A lot of the wildlife and other natural products are smuggled into the country through a number of provinces. Sandstone is taken from Laos to Chiang Rai while wild orchids from Laos are transported to Nong Khai and Mukdahan. Siamese rosewood (payung) is moved from Ubon Ratchathani's Khemarat district into Laos and then to China, while Nakhon Phanom is used as a transit point for sending pangolins and tigers to Laos. The two endangered species are mostly brought into Thailand from Indonesia and Malaysia through the southern border provinces. Their final destination is China, Pol Gen Suwat said.
Pangolin meat is cooked in gourmet dishes believed to possess aphrodisiac effects while their scales are used to make traditional medicine.
Thailand also provides a passage for the transport of illegal ivory from Africa to China, Pol Gen Suwat said.
Our squad previously focused on robberies along the Mekong, but the situation has changed and we have to pay more attention to other types of crime, especially the illegal trade of wildlife
Pol Gen Suwat has asked villagers in riverside communities to help keep an eye on illegal activities and report them to police. He conceded the squad's work was impeded by corrupt police officers
This problem needs to end immediately.
He vowed to transfer officers found to have a hand in the trans-border crimes and said they would face swift prosecution.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Special squad cracks down on 'river of sin': The Thai-Lao length of the Mekong is a hotbed of criminal activity, 15/11/2010, Wassana Nanuam, link)
Mekong River - one the longest rivers in the world starting in China, passing by Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and finally entering the sea in southern Vietnam (See Wikipedia)
friendship bridges - two bridges across the Mekong that connect Thailand to Laos, making it easier to transport goods and people across the border
First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge - bridge over Mekong river connecting Nong Khai province and the city of Nong Khai in Thailand with Vientiane in Laos (See Wikipedia)
Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge - bridge over Mekong connecting Mukdahan Province in Thailand with Savannakhet in Laos (See Wikipedia)
hotbed - a place where there is a lot of people involved in an activity (here: hotbed of smuggling activity, hotbed of criminal activity)
squad - a team, a small group of police or soldiers who do a particular job หน่วยทหารพิเศษ, ทีม
crack down - (or "crackdown") strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่ strong official action to punish lawbreakers การปราบปรามขั้นเด็ดขาด
mission - an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do งาน
crack police squad - a very skilled police squad
suppress - to stop some activity or protest using the police or military หยุดยั้ง, ปราบ, ปราบปราม, ยกเลิก
border - the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
trans-border - operating in two or more countries (cross the border in their operations)
crime syndicates - crime organizations, organized crime, organizations that commit crimes to make money, the mafia
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย
range - a number of different things that are of the same general type ขอบข่าย, ประเภท
smuggle - bring goods into a country secretly and illegally
smuggler - a criminal who smuggles goods into a country
traffic (verb) - buying and selling (trading) illegal goods such as drugs, weapons or humans for some illegal purpose such as prostitution
trafficker (noun) - a person involved in the buying and selling of illegal goods
drug trafficking - buying and selling illegal drugs
wildlife - animals living in the jungle
advantage - when you are in a better position than others to achieve your goals
take advantage - use something to gain an advantage
evade - to avoid or escape from someone or something หลีกเลี่ยง
authorities - government officials จ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
admit - to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it ยอมรับ
cope - to deal successfully with a difficult situation or problem รับมือกับ (See glossary)
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
task - something that you have to do หน้าที่; ภารกิจ
patrol - a group of people or vehicles that move around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime ตรวจการ, ลาดตระเวน
priority - something important that must be done first or needs more attention than anything else การให้ลำดับความสำคัญ
tackle - to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with a problem จัดการ, แก้ปัญหา
focus - the main thing it is concerned with ให้ความสำคัญ
stretch - a continuous area of land or water
coordinate - working together to achieve a goal, organizing activities so that people can work together efficiently (See glossary)
conduct - to do something in an organised way; to carry out
integrated - combined so that they work or operate as one unit, work well together, combining things of different types in one effective system ที่รวมเข้าด้วยกัน
suppression - stopping an activity from happening, in this case, criminal activity, stopping illegal activity การระงับ การปราบปราม
collaborates - working together with other people and organizations to achieve goals
investigation - the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
transit - the act of moving from one place to another การเดินทางผ่าน
smuggling - secretly and illegally taking goods or people into or out of a country ลักลอบขนสินค้าหรือคนเข้าและออกจากประเทศอย่างผิดกฎหมาย
wildlife - animals, birds and plants that live in natural conditions (in the forest, prairie, desert, etc)
consumer - someone who buys and uses goods and services ผู้บริโภค
common - see or happening often, usual, ordinary
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
sandstone - a stone made of sand turned solid usually found in the colours brown, white, yellow or red (See Wikipedia)
transit point - a place that something is moved or transported through
pangolins - an anteater with scales (that look like armour), active at night (nocturnal) (See Wikipedia)
orchids - a variety of plant with many different species, perhaps as many as 25,000
rosewood - a dark brown strong wood with veins commonly used to make furniture, guitars and luxury floors (See Wikipedia)
endangered - at risk or in danger of being harmed, damaged or destroyed เป็นอันตราย
species - a set of animals or plants in which the members have similar characteristics to each other and can breed with each other พันธ์,จำพวก
destination - the place where someone or something is going จุดหมายปลายทาง
gourmet - (in this context) having high-quality food มีคุณภาพทางอาหารที่สูง
possess - to have or own something ครอบครอง, ถือครอง
aphrodisiac - a drug that increases sexual desire, love potion ยาหรือสารกระตุ้นความต้องการทางเพศ (See Wikipedia)
scales - small hard pieces (covering body of animal)
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
transport - to move people or things from one place to another ขนส่ง
ivory - the yellowish-white bone that an elephant's tusks are made of สีงาช้าง
conceded - admitted unwillingly that something is true ยอมรับ
officers - high ranking managers in a company (Photo on right of one of the first computers, the gigantic
immediately - happening right after something else with no delay; right away ทันที
vowed - promised
transfer - to move someone or something from one place, vehicle, person or group to another ย้าย
have a hand in - participating in, being part of an activity (here: police who are part of criminal gangs)
swift - happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว โดยด่วน
prosecution - the person or organisation that tries to prove in court that someone has committed a crime อัยการ
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