Drug gangs start to target Laos border

Drug gangs start to target Laos border

Purge in Myanmar spurs route change

The Royal Thai Navy patrols the Mekong River on Feb 5, 2019 to stamp out drug smuggling from neighbouring countries. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
The Royal Thai Navy patrols the Mekong River on Feb 5, 2019 to stamp out drug smuggling from neighbouring countries. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Thailand has sought help from Laos to step up efforts against drug trafficking along the Thai-Lao border after smugglers changed their routes from the North to Northeast due to heavy suppression along the northern boundary with Myanmar.

Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) Niyom Termsrisuk said on Monday the Thai military and its Lao counterpart are collaborating to prevent drug trafficking through the northeastern borders into Thailand.

The Royal Thai Armed Forces have formed a working group responsible for combating drug trafficking in Thai provinces bordering Laos. Twelve teams of officers have been set up to coordinate drug investigation and suppression operations, said Mr Niyom.

Anti-drug operations in Thai provinces would align with those in Lao provinces, said Mr Niyom.

According to Mr Niyom, Thailand is keeping a closer watch on the Thai-Lao border zones due to drug traffickers’ change of smuggling routes after the Myanmar government began continuously and vigorously cracking down on drug production and storage sites its country.

The ONCB chief revealed that more drug smuggling was recently detected along the northeastern borders from Loei to Ubon Ratchathani provinces. Nong Khai, Mukdahan, Bung Kan and Nakhon Phanom are the provinces through which drugs have been smuggled the most.

A majority of the smuggled methamphetamine has made its way into the kingdom via Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Ubon Ratchathani, he said.

Drugs smuggled across the Thai-Lao border include methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine, known as ice, and marijuana, said Mr Niyom.

From Oct 2020 — June 2021, 22.19 million pills of methamphetamine, 638.5 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine and 6,240 kilogrammes of marijuana were seized by Thai authorities.

Despite the government’s efforts to prevent smuggled drugs, some of them have been sneaked into the inner parts of the country. At the end of May 2020, one million pills of methamphetamine were confiscated in Bangkok and a total of 1.1 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine were confiscated in June this year. The drugs were smuggled through Nong Khai and Loei, he said.


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