New ketamine production method puts police on alert
The police Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) is keeping a close watch on the northern border for a possible influx of a new batch of the drug ketamine which has been made using sodium cyanide as a precursor.
NSB chief Pol Lt Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk said sodium cyanide, a chemical substance used in industrial processing, is being used to produce ketamine powder in the Shan-controlled area along the Thai-Myanmar border.
Ketamine is said to induce a trance-like state and hallucinations when used recreationally.
The NSB commissioner said Thai authorities had seized 20kg of ketamine powder from a drug smuggling ring with links in Laos. The ketamine confiscated by police usually comes comes in liquid form, he said.
He said the information was shared by Myanmar's anti-narcotics officials at a recent meeting with Thai authorities in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.
Drug-makers see Thailand as a highly viable market due to its proliferation of night spots and party-goers.
Previous attempts by Myanmar authorities to crack down on drug-making factories have often failed because the factories are too well-guarded.
Authorities of both countries will seek cooperation from various agencies to monitor the flow of imported sodium cyanide to make sure it does not fall into the wrong hands.
"There are records of the substance being imported into Mynamar via Laem Chabang port. It was declared for use in the gold-mining industry. With this new information we will have to keep an extra close watch," said Pol Lt Gen Sommai, adding that other chemicals used as precursors in drug-making which are being monitored are methylene chloride, sodium carbonate and ammonium chloride.
The commissioner said Thai authorities also asked their Myanmar counterparts to help track down and deport 25 drug suspects for prosecution in Thailand.
The suspects include alleged ringleaders Suchada Thuaypa, Chaiwat Pornsakulpaisal and Thawatchai Omchomphu.
In another development, police in Tak are stepping up measures to stem drug trafficking in the province following reports that smugglers are now moving drugs through Tak rather than Chiang Rai as they once did.
Pol Maj Gen Parinya Wisittakul, chief of the Tak provincial police office, said the stepped-up efforts follow the arrest of two men in Phrop Phra district with 2kg of crystal methamphetamine or "ice" in their possession.
Tua sae Weu, 25, and Winai Phutthichaijanya, 36, were arrested in a sting operation as they were about to hand over a supply worth 900,000 baht to undercover agents.
The suspects admitted they had smuggled narcotics from Myanmar via Tak instead of Chiang Rai several times before the arrest because the new route was quicker.
Both men were charged with the illegal possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.