ONCB wants Asean drug police force

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board wants to establish an Asean drug enforcement agency to boost its anti-drug push.

The ONCB wants to expand its reach overseas and a proposal to establish a regional ONCB with its headquarters in Thailand is on its list of plans for next year, deputy ONCB chief Phoemphong Chawalit said.

Talking to ONCB officials yesterday, Mr Phoemphong said closer cooperation among Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) members is needed, as most drugs are smuggled into Thailand from neighbouring countries.

Regional efforts will help the ONCB better cope with drugs.

In the past two years, the agency has arrested hundreds of suspects and seized assets worth up to 2.2 billion baht.

The agency had also seized 180 million methamphetamine pills, three tonnes of crystal methamphetamine, 708 kilogrammes of heroin and 25,000 kilogrammes of marijuana and sent more than 700,000 drug addicts for treatment.

Its record exceeds targets set for the agency, but the drugs fight is still far from over, Mr Phoemphong said.

Thailand might be underestimating the amount of drugs being smuggled into the country, he said.

Most drugs are brought in from production sites in Myanmar and Laos.

The Myanmar government has found it difficult to cope with drug producers who are mainly armed ethnic minorities based near the Thai-Myanmar border, said Naruemon Chuangrangsi, the ONCB's chief of strategic planning.

Reinforced joint missions among Myanmar, Thailand and other Asean countries could help combat trafficking, especially in crystal methamphetamine which is expected to increase next year, Mr Phoemphong said.

The push for greater international cooperation against drugs is backed by Senator Chet Sirathananon who yesterday raised concerns over drug problems during a Senate meeting.

Mr Chet called on the government to grant more money to anti-drugs agencies and assign a single agency to take charge of campaigns against drugs.

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Writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
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