B2-billion heroin haul in Northeast
Trafficking patterns shifting during pandemic, with more drugs arriving via Laos to be transported from Isan
published : 30 Jul 2021 at 20:46
writer: Pattanapong Sripiachai
NAKHON PHANOM: Authorities have seized 600 kilogrammes of heroin worth at least 2 billion baht and arrested a suspected drug courier in the largest haul in the Northeast this year.
Phongphitak Pradaphol, 46, of Nong Bua Lam Phu, was apprehended at a resort in tambon Pai Lom of Ban Phaeng district in Nakhon Phanom late Thursday night after police followed his car. Seized from his vehicle were 1,673 bars of compressed heroin, weighing 600kg in total, said Pol Lt Gen Yanyong Vej-osoth, chief of Provincial Police Region 4.
During questioning, the suspect claimed he had been hired for 5,000 baht to pick up the heroin in Ban Phaeng district of the northeastern province to deliver to a transnational drug gang. The drugs would be transported to southern Thailand and them shipped abroad, he reportedly told police.
Pol Lt Gen Yanyong said it was the largest haul of heroin seized in the Northeast this year. The drugs had a street value of at least 2 billion baht.
Officers from several agencies helped track down the suspect, he added.
Police believe the drugs had been smuggled from the northern border area. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, security has been tightened along the northern border with Myanmar, prompting smugglers to shift their routes to the Northeast.
The notorious Golden Triangle remains the source of most of the drugs trafficked in the region, and the trade has been thriving despite the pandemic. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime also noted in a recent report that more shipments, especially those involving methamphetamines, are coming into Thailand via Laos instead of Myanmar as before.
The investigation would be extended to bring members of the drug network and the mastermind to task, said Pol Lt Gen Yanyong.
Senior police and navy officers display seized heroin at a briefing in Nakhon Phanom on Friday. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)