'Ya ice' emerges as regional drug menace

'Ya ice' emerges as regional drug menace

Large screens display the 'Drug Free Asean' motto at the 8th Asean Drug Monitoring Network Operational Workshop being held in Bangkok. Patipat Janthong
Large screens display the 'Drug Free Asean' motto at the 8th Asean Drug Monitoring Network Operational Workshop being held in Bangkok. Patipat Janthong

Methamphetamine remains a pressing problem for Thailand while in other Asean countries crystal meth, or ya ice, has become a major scourge, according to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

The past three years have seen widespread abuse of meth pills in Thailand and ya ice in other countries in the region, said Weerawat Tengamnuay, the ONCB deputy secretary-general at the 8th Asean Drug Monitoring Network Operational Workshop in Bangkok.

Representatives of 10 Asean members exchanged information about the drug abuse situation in their countries.

The region is looking out for the emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and opioids, a class of drugs which includes the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers, he said.

Since the beginning of 2017, authorities in the region have determined that a growing number of people have received treatment for abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants combined with the use of cannabis and NPS.

Also, the workshop was told of the smuggling into some countries of khat, a stimulant processed from the leaves and buds of the khat plant (Catha edulis Forsk).

Meanwhile, in Phangnga, authorities on Wednesday destroyed about 800 krathom (Mitragyna speciose) plants allegedly grown by a son of a local politician on more than five rai of land in Kapong district.

Siripat Patakul, the provincial governor, was tipped off about the kratom plants and ordered naval officers and police to raid the farm located on a mountain in tambon Moh.

The joint force found about 800 krathom plants which were mostly five years old with the trunks measuring about 13 centimetres in circumference.

The krathom were farmed in five plots totalling five rai.

Officials used chain saws to cut down the plants and poured herbicide on the stumps to prevent re-growth.

The slashed krathom, weighing more than 2.5 tonnes, was loaded onto five pickup trucks which transported it out of the area before it was reloaded onto two lorries provided by the navy.

It was the largest haul of krathom plants to be destroyed in Phangnga this year.

Capt Apichart Worapamorn, deputy chief of the Internal Security Operations Command office in Phangnga, said the Royal Forest Department was also checking whether the krathom farm was located on so-called Sor Por Kor land reform plots.

Sor Por Kor land is reserved for landless farmers and legal permission must be secured before it can be used.

No one was arrested in the raid on Wednesday although a search of the workers' living quarters at the farm uncovered three handguns.

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