Police bag Chinese 'mule' in Surin
Beijing vows greater cooperation on drugs
A suspected Chinese heroin smuggler who tried to pass himself off as a student has been nabbed in Surin under a Thai-Sino operation to intercept drugs increasingly destined for China at the hands of transnational drug traffickers.
Thai immigration police found Wu Quianxing, one of two drug suspects wanted by Chinese authorities, at a hotel in Muang district late last month when he had his representative contact officials on his behalf to renew his visa for a longer stay in Thailand.
Mr Wu stated he wanted to "study religion" here, Narcotics Control Board secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said Monday.
But his visa was immediately revoked and the man was detained after his criminal background was revealed by Chinese officials.
Anti-drug police in the southernmost Chinese island province of Hainan believe Mr Wu, together with a Chinese compatriot, evaded arrest warrants and fled to Thailand where they continued their illegal business.
The authorities did not say when the Chinese suspect arrived in Thailand.
"Mr Wu is a prime suspect who sent drugs from Thailand to China," Mr Niyom said.
On July 3 last year, Hainan officers charged 24 gangsters with various drug charges after allegedly finding them in possession of 11.7 kilogrammes of heroin and 190 grammes of crystal methamphetamine.
A further investigation indicated the suspects received the drugs from Mr Wu and his friend.
The Chinese Narcotics Control Bureau then asked Thai police to locate the two fugitives.
"We're intensifying our search for the other suspect," deputy national police chief Pol Gen Chaloemkiat Siworakhan said following the arrest of Mr Wu.
Chinese Narcotics Control Bureau deputy chief Wei Xiaojun vowed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in cracking down on the drugs trade as China has now become a major illicit drug destination.
A great deal of heroin from the Golden Triangle, the notorious drug-producing region, is believed to be smuggled into China.
Trafficking has increased by 20% recently, according to Mr Wei.
Thailand and authorities from neighbouring countries have been working on plans to deal with drug gangs in the Golden Triangle, which covers an overlapping mountainous area of about 950,000 square kilometres shared by Myanmar, Laos and Thailand near the Mekong River.
In 2016, authorities announced they would "seal it off" by blocking the transport of drug precursors to the region and, at the same time, preventing drugs from being taken out of the border region.
Thai Immigration police have also begun stepping up crackdowns on foreigners who live or work illegally in the country.