Police have intercepted 201 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine pills hidden in six replicas of ancient "Moai" statue heads waiting at a warehouse for shipment to Taiwan.
A combined force of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), Immigration Bureau and representatives of the Taiwanese police department raided All Trans Logistics 2011, a shipping company, at the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Sri Racha district of Chonburi province on Wednesday to examine six replicas of Moai heads, giant statues found on Easter Island.
The replicas were in a warehouse awaiting shipment to Taiwan.
After cutting six of the heads open, they found about 200 kg of crystal meth inside, according to deputy national police chief Roy Inkhapairoj.
The operation started early this year when police collaborated with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand after a tip-off that a drug trafficking gang - led by a Taiwanese man identified only as Pan and his Thai girlfriend known only as Ju - were planning to smuggle narcotics out of the country to Taiwan.
Pol Gen Roy said police tracked the movements of the two and found that they had taken several trips between Thailand and Taiwan. They also rented a depot in Samut Sakhon province to store the replicas of the Moai heads.
The replicas were transported from Taiwan to the depot in Samut Sakhon early last year on a declaration to customs officials at Laem Chabang that the items would be used for exhibitions in Thailand, with another Thai woman named only as Kanyaphak responsible for all transportation and rental costs, he said.
Police find several bags of crystal methamphetamine pills in the artificial Moai heads. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)
Pol Gen Roy said police had also monitored the two Thai women and found more than 10 million baht had passed through their bank accounts although they had no specific professions, while the sources of the money could not be identified.
NSB chief Pol Lt Gen Sarayut Sanguanphokhai said police had arrested several members of the gang and were pursuing the rest. He did not give details on the arrested suspects.
Moai are the mysterious, giant human statues found on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia.