ONCB: Drug smuggling still rampant

ONCB: Drug smuggling still rampant

Thai and Lao patrol boats ply the Mekong River in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai, part of the “Safe Mekong” joint operation against drug smuggling. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Thai and Lao patrol boats ply the Mekong River in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai, part of the “Safe Mekong” joint operation against drug smuggling. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Cross-border drug smuggling is still rampant and about 20,000 villages are still plagued by drug abuse even though more than 500 million methamphetamine pills had been intercepted while being brought into the country, Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Sirinya Sithichai said on Thursday.

Mr Sirinya was giving a progress briefing on the Safe Mekong Joint Operation launched in 2013.

He said Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China had joined hands to block precursor chemicals being smuggled into the Golden Triangle area for use in drug production.

A task force had also been based at Tachilek in Myanmar, opposite Chiang Rai, for this purpose.

So far, more than 500 million methamphetamine pills had been intercepted while being smuggling into Thailand. 

However, drug smuggling was still rampant, with about 30 drug trafficking networks active, each with four or five major dealers.

Despite knowing the identities of major drug dealers of each network, the ONCB had to be careful in making arrests, as it also wanted to track down the routes they channel their finances through.

According to data compiled by ONCB, about 20,000 villages are plagued with drugs, with 7,000 considered highly infested. The ONCB divides the degree of infestation into three levesl: high, moderate and low.

Mr Sirinya said Wat Takrai community in Ayutthaya province, for example, is highly infested with drugs.

All government agencies dealing with drugs - the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, ONCB and local officials led by provincial governors - were involved in a project to free these villages of drugs.

In prisons, the Justice Ministry had assigned the Corrections Department and ONCB to keep all drug convicts and their contacts under watch.

Along the border, the ONCB and the military had set up checkpoints to intercept drug smugglers -- with the Pha Muang Force and Naresuan Force in the North, Burapha Force in the East and Surasee Force in the West -- and prevent the drugs being delivered to dealers deeper inside the country.


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