ONCB dismisses Mexican meth link
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board on Thursday played down US claims that Mexican drug cartels are eyeing Thailand as a market for their methamphetamine, citing intelligence reports.
It is the Golden Triangle rather than Mexico that is regarded as the major narcotics threat to the country, ONCB secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said when asked about concerns raised by US drug buster, the Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West).
Its deputy chief, Earl Hampton, told reporters in Hawaii this week that Asian countries, including Thailand, are vulnerable to trafficking of meth produced in Mexico.
Mr Hampton's remarks were backed by reports from US anti-narcotics authorities.
He said the Mexican-manufactured drug features the same precursor chemicals as those found in drug labs along the Thai-Myanmar border.
However, Mr Niyom said Thai intelligence agencies have found no evidence that Mexican meth is being smuggled into Asian countries.
He also said that cocaine, rather than meth, appears to pose more serious problems in Mexico.
Even the report of the same precursor usage failed to convince him of a link between Thailand and Mexican drug cartels, despite the claims from the US.
"Up to 90% of the precursors are produced in the Golden Triangle," Mr Niyom said, referring to the notorious drug-manufacturing hotbed in the mountains that overlap Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.
If methamphetamine manufactured with the same precursors is found elsewhere, "it may have been made in a small drug lab, not a factory", he said.
The Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau on Wednesday echoed doubts over Mr Hampton's warning, saying that smuggling drugs from Mexico would be uneconomical.
Mr Hampton also said Fentanyl, which is blamed for a surge in opioid-related deaths in America, is being trafficked into the US from abroad.
Fentanyl is a powerful drug often used by heroin addicts, Mr Niyom said.
It is rarely found in Thailand and thus not considered a big threat, he added.