The United States' International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Office (US INL) has donated over US$370,000 (12.7 million baht) worth of equipment to the police to support efforts to combat transnational crime in the Northeast.
The US embassy and Provincial Police Region 4 (PPR4) held a press conference and ceremony yesterday to announce the donation which the US hopes will be used to tighten security along 670 kilometres of the Mekong River.
Gregory Shaw, who heads the INL bureau at the US embassy in Bangkok, said now is the time to cooperate as criminal trafficking networks have begun exploiting routes in Isan where security has traditionally been lighter on the ground.
"Criminals have increased efforts to exploit the Isan region and Mekong River to circumvent border crossing to illegally traffic people, illicit wildlife products, weapons and dangerous illegal drugs into Thailand," he said.
He said the situation continued to worsen last year when nearly 100 million methamphetamine tablets were seized in this region, more than four times the number seized in 2019 and 2020 combined.
"This helps demonstrate the increased need to bolster law enforcement resources to protect all of Thailand from international drug traffickers and other criminals," he added.
Provincial Police Region Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Yunyong Wetchaosot also spoke about the rising tide of illicit drugs in the Northeast with production shifting from Myanmar to Laos.
"Drugs are often transferred via natural routes. The north is a mountainous area in need of heavy supervision. There is also a very long border that requires sophisticated technology to monitor.
"The US and the Northeast authorities have long worked together to ensure concrete measures are taken against transnational gangs. I believe the outcome has been mutually beneficial and I would like to thank them for their help."