Police debate failure to halt drug influx

Police debate failure to halt drug influx

National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, right, talks to his deputy, Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, before they discuss changes to the narcotics suppression policy in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, right, talks to his deputy, Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, before they discuss changes to the narcotics suppression policy in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Police are considering adjusting their narcotics suppression strategies after statistics from previous crackdowns point to a surging amount of drugs reaching Bangkok and the central provinces.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda made the remark Thursday when the Royal Thai Police (RTP) called a meeting with concerned units to discuss amending their plans to curb drug smuggling.

The national police chief said he was not satisfied with the outcome of operations used to tackle the problem because only lower-level drug suspects were arrested last year despite a huge spike in the size of drug seizures.

He asked why regional police had failed to intercept the drugs before they reached the capital.

Provincial Police Regions 3 and 6 were told to improve their operations to prevent narcotics from being smuggled into the Central Plains and the South by intercepting them earlier in the North and Northeast.

Provincial Police Region 3 is responsible for law enforcement in the lower northeastern provinces including Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Yasothon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani.

Provincial Police Region 6 takes care of the lower northern provinces including Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Sukhothai and Uthai Thani.

The amount of narcotics seized last year rose three-fold on average from 2016, he said.

Some 5.2 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine were detected in 2017, up from 1.1 tonnes the previous year.

The comparable figures for seizures of heroin were 411.25 kilogrammes last year and 147.54kg in 2016 while seizures of methamphetamine jumped from 97.64 million to 215.58 million tablets, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said.

There were also more drug suspects detained last year, or 294,482 compared to 241,866 in 2016. This marked an increase of 23%.

Pol Lt Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, chief of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said Thailand has been working with its neighbours to crush the drug trade.

He declined to provide details of their collaboration or the contents of Thursday's inter-police meeting regarding upcoming changes to police drug-suppression activities.

The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said last week it will keep working closely with narcotics suppression units of five countries along the Mekong River under the "Safe Mekong" project.

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