220kg of ganja seized in Nakhon Phanom
Two held for smuggling said they needed the money after losing jobs in pandemic
published : 1 Aug 2020 at 15:20
writer: Pattanapong Sripiachai
NAKHON PHANOM: Two men arrested on charges of smuggling 220 kilogrammes of marijuana said they did it because they needed money after the Covid-19 outbreak left them jobless, according to police.
The arrests were made after authorities received information that a drug gang planned to smuggle marijuana from Laos into Nakhon Phanom via That Phanom district on Friday night.
A navy patrol spotted two suspect vehicles travelling along the route and stopped them at the Don Sawan intersection. When they searched the car, they found 220 bars of compressed marijuana stuffed inside five sacks.
Authorities seized a Toyota Vios car with Bangkok licence plates and an Isuzu pickup with Bangkok plates from the pair, said Capt Surasak Suwankesa, commander of a naval unit in Nakhon Phanom.
Authorities said the seized marijuana was of a high grade that would fetch between 25,000 and 30,000 baht per kilogramme.
During the interrogation, the two suspects confessed that the drugs had been smuggled across the Mekong River from Laos by longtailed boat. They had been hired for 20,000 baht to take the marijuana to Ubon Ratchathani, where another group of couriers would pick it up.
Khamdaeng Chanhom, 47, and Phon Joralee, 48, both from Ubon Ratchathani, are in custody pending further legal action. Police said the pair claimed they were made jobless during the Covid-19 outbreak and had no choice but to deliver the drugs.
Authorities said they would expand their investigation to find others involved, noting that marijuana smuggling appeared to be on the increase.
During the past two months, more than two tonnes of marijuana have been seized in Nakhon Phanom. Last year, about 8 tonnes of marijuana were seized in the northeastern province.