Man nabbed with drug precursor haul

Man nabbed with drug precursor haul

Chemicals could have made 6 tonnes of 'ice'

A series of surveillance and post-arrest photos show the tale of the 15 tonnes of precursors seized in a Thai-Myanmar operation. At right, Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
A series of surveillance and post-arrest photos show the tale of the 15 tonnes of precursors seized in a Thai-Myanmar operation. At right, Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

A Thai lorry driver has been arrested in Myanmar for transporting 15 tonnes of sodium cyanide, which can be used as a precursor for making drugs. The arrest was made under the Thai-Myanmar drug suppression cooperation, authorities said.

Sawat Kaewda was arrested in Tachileik, a Myanmar border town opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Sai province, on Saturday. His arrest was announced Sunday by Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

Mr Sirinya said the compound was shipped to Thailand by a Chinese company at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri before being transported to the North.

Chiangsaen Customs denied the shipment of the compound to Myanmar by boat along Mekong River as it is regarded as a hazardous chemical so it was carried across the border to Myanmar by a lorry instead, he said.

Thai authorities found that permission was sought to export the compound to Myanmar, with a clear destination given, so they let the lorry cross the border.

However, due to the size of the shipment, Myanmar authorities were contacted to check the cargo, which was said to be intended for the mining industry, Mr Sirinya said, adding sodium cyanide can also be used as a precursor for making crystal meth, or ya ice, as well as methamphetamine pills, or ya ba.

After the lorry crossed the border, Myanmar authorities uncovered the intended destination did not comply with what was stipulated in the permit document.

Mr Sawat said he would deliver the cargo to a receiver in Yangon, Mr Sirinya said.

The driver was apprehended on charges of illegal entry and importing sodium cyanide into the country without a permit, he said.

He said Thai authorities would check legal elements to determine whether the driver should be brought back to Thailand to face prosecution. "Fairness must be extended to the suspect as he was simply the driver," said Mr Sirinya.

He said 15 tonnes of sodium cyanide can be used to produce 5,900 kilogrammes of ya ice or 295 million pills of ya ba.

In another case, Myanmar officials of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse and Control (CCDAC) arrested a Thai drug suspect on May 31 in Tachileik, Mr Sirinya said. Charoen Kiatponpanich was wanted under a warrant issued on Jan 13 last year.

Mr Charoen's drug accomplices were arrested earlier, but he fled to Tachileik, so the CCDAC was contacted to help apprehend the suspect, he said.

Between Wednesday and Friday, officials from the ONCB and state agencies searched his properties in Thailand and seized valuables, including three cars, eight motorcycles and land plots, worth 12 million baht.


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