CHIANG MAI: The army has tightened security along the northern border following reports of greater quantities and varieties of illegal drugs flowing into the country from Myanmar, which is also said to harbouring a rise in opium-growing facilities.
Maj Gen Jarad Panyadee, deputy commissioner of the Northern Border Narcotic Control Centre (NBNCC), said the force from Division 3 has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensing technology and army sniffer dogs alongside an increase in manpower to stifle the illegal trade.
He added that while Myanmar and the Chinese authorities have drug suppression measures of their own, the drug situation in Thailand has failed to improve.
Narcotics production is now faster and cheaper which makes the product more accessible, especially via online dark web sales. Twenty-nine districts. covering provinces in the northern and northeastern regions, have reported recent drug smuggling activity.
Thirteen districts, covering Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Loei, are regarded as areas with a serious narcotic problem, with nine in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, and Phayao marked as having medium-high levels of illicit drug trading.
Intelligence sources also reported some ethnic groups were involved in drug rings, with many drugs smuggled for clients in both Thailand and countries such as Malaysia and Taiwan.
Maj Gen Jarad said some of the income from their activities was channelled back to fund Myanmar's ethnic troops, such as the United Wa State Army and the Karen National Liberation Army, in their border conflicts with Thailand.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has laid charges in 219 narcotics cases since October, with 233 suspects arrested and nearly 432 million baht's worth of properties seized along the way, he said.
Last year, 362,888,336 pills of methamphetamine or ya ba were seized along the northern border as well as 5,418 kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ya ice, and 252kg of heroin, he said.
However, opium cultivation seems to be waning slightly following arrests in the region. According to Maj Gen Jarad, 121 opium plots, covering around 55 rai overall, have been found in the northern region since the end of last year.