Two arrested in Thai-Australian drug bust

Two arrested in Thai-Australian drug bust

Office of the Narcotic Control Board secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk shows to the media how heroin was hidden in a shock absorber, while Australian coordinator Stephey Fry (left) looks on during a briefing on Sunday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Office of the Narcotic Control Board secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk shows to the media how heroin was hidden in a shock absorber, while Australian coordinator Stephey Fry (left) looks on during a briefing on Sunday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Two transnational heroin smugglers - a Canadian national and a Thai man - have been arrested on drug charges and assets worth over 7.5 million baht seized, Office of the Narcotic Control Board (Oncb) secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said at a press conference on Sunday.

The arrest was made as part of the joint Thai-Australian drug suppression operation called Taskforce Storm.

Mr Niyom was accompanied at the press conference by Pol Col Adis Charoensawat, deputy chief of the 3rd Division of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, and Stephen Fry, a senior coordinator of the Australian Federal Police.

He identified the Canadian suspect as Stephens Blair, 38, and the Thai as Pahon Sivasirikaroon, 27.

The Oncb chief said the two were arrested on Jan 17 when they showed up at the Suvarnabhumi airport cargo terminal to claim a returned parcel containing eight shock absorbers -- with 3,740 grammes of heroin hidden inside.

Drug suppression officials then searched two condominiums in Phayathai and Rama 9 areas and a house in Prawet district. They seized one kilogramme of compressed marijuana, two ecstasy pills, one gramme of cocaine, a Benz E300 Coupe, a Toyota Camry, a Kawasaki Z1000 motorcycle, an AP Royal Oak wristwatch, a Rolex Oyster S GMT wrist watch and 2.5 million baht cash. The seized items were altogether worth over 7.5 million baht.

Mr Niyom said the arrest was made under a joint Thai-Australian drug suppression operation named Taskforce Storm, a collaboration between the Oncb and the Australian Federation Police (AFP).

The operation revealed that the drugs were being smuggled from the Golden Triangle into Thailand before being delivered to Australia and Canada.

"Only a small quantity of drugs was seized because it was only a small part of an "army ant" delivery system. In this case, the drugs were hidden in shock absorbers sent in a parcel to Australia. Due to a mistake, this consignment was returned," he said.

The authorities believe they have identified all the suspected members of the drug gang. They are all Australian nationals who are still active in a neighbouring country. "We are in the process of gathering evidence to arrest them," he added.

According to Mr Niyom, heroin was formerly packaged in bars, making delivery difficult. Now, it has been packaged in small quantities hidden in various kinds of goods. Without good intelligence cooperation, it would be difficult to arrest the suspects, he said.

Mr Niyom said the two suspects in this case have been initially charged with possession of illicit drugs with intent to sell.


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