Thailand and Singapore have delivered three patrol boats to Laos and Myanmar to boost regional drug suppression cooperation on the Mekong River.
The vessels were delivered on Monday at a pier in Samut Prakan. Witnessing the handover ceremony were Thai Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin and Singapore's ambassador to Thailand Kevin Cheok.
Also in attendance were Niyom Termsrisuk, secretary-general of Thailand's Narcotics Control Board; Vongphet Senvondsa, deputy secretary-general of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision; and Pol Col La Mhin, director of Myanmar's Narcotic Suppression Bureau.
Mr Somsak said the three patrol boats were delivered under Asean's cooperation plan to combat trade in illicit drugs in the so-called Golden Triangle.
Notorious as a global hub for opium cultivation and drug production, the Golden Triangle stretches across rugged borderlands where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.
Mr Somsak said Thailand was leading Asean cooperation by supporting Laos and Myanmar in academic exchanges, capacity-building of anti-drugs officials, and blocking shipments of chemical precursors required to produce the narcotics.
He said Thailand, as initiator of Asean cooperation in suppressing the drugs trade, had joined hands with Singapore to beef up Mekong security with the addition of the three patrol boats.
He said the patrol boats will take part in missions to prevent drug traffickers from using the river to smuggle chemical precursors to drugs factories in the Golden Triangle and smuggling illicit drugs to other countries.
The boats will join efforts to plug holes in a border drug-smuggling operation worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Thailand was the first country to encourage every member in Asean to reinforce security in the Golden Triangle, whose drug factories pump out a constant flow of methamphetamine and opium that floods through the rest of Southeast Asia.
Thailand initiated the Golden Triangle 1511 Operation in December last year in collaboration with five countries in the Mekong region, in a bid to decimate the drug syndicates.