Suppression in Myanmar drives 'ice' into Thailand

Suppression in Myanmar drives 'ice' into Thailand

Mountains of crystal methamphetamine or "ice" have been seized this year as a result of heavy suppression in Myanmar, causing an influx of the drug into Thailand, Office of Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said on Monday.

Mr Niyom said the latest shipment of crystal meth was intercepted on Saturday when a six-wheel truck was stopped for a search at a checkpoint in front of the Co-Op store in tambon Nong Sai in Phun Phin district, Surat Thani.

Forty sacks containing about 1,200 kilogrammes of crystal meth were found under sacks of cow dung in the truck. Three men were arrested.

Crystal meth is being trafficked through Thailand more frequently and in larger quantities because drug stocks have piled up at the production bases, the ONCB secretary-general said.

Since early this year, ice trafficking has largely been frozen due to heavy suppression by the Myanmar government and restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19, resulting in rapidly growing stockpiles. 

As suppression efforts and Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, traders have resumed the distribution of the drug, he said.

Intelligence operations revealed that since the beginning of fiscal 2020 there have been 17 deliveries of more than 11 tonnes of crystal meth through Thailand. Most of the drugs seized were heading to the South, from where the drug was to be transported by sea to third countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia. 

"Moreover, more than four tonnes of ice have been seized by the Myanmar authorities. It was believed the drug was about to be delivered through Thailand to third countries.

"As Thailand shares a border with the drug production bases in the Golden Triangle and is a hub of land, air and sea communication routes, it is difficult to avoid being a transit route to other regions," Mr Niyom said.

According to an analysis of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Thailand and other countries in the Mekong river basin are now facing more serious problems over smuggling of drugs, particularly ice, because of the proliferation of synthetic drugs in East and Southeast Asia, he added.

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