Thailand has asked Lao authorities to help track down 54 drug trafficking suspects who have fled to the neighbouring country as both nations seek to tighten cross-border collaboration in a bid to stamp out the narcotic drugs trade.
Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin discussed new cooperation initiatives with a Lao delegation led by Maj Gen Khamking Phuilamanyvong, deputy minister of public security, at Government House on Wednesday.
Mr Somsak, who oversees the Justice Ministry, said the arrest of the fugitives would boost Thailand’s drug suppression effort, which is among the new government’s top priorities.
Even though suppression of illegal drugs has improved in the country, more tools are needed to make the efforts more effective, with confiscating drug-related assets a crucial tool.
He said it was a good sign that police, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and revenue officials have become aware of how important asset seizures are, and if such efforts were accelerated, the drug suppression policy would succeed.
“The costs of of production for narcotics are very low and if we don’t take this policy seriously we won’t succeed,” said the minister. “However, the government, especially the prime minister, is serious about stamping out the illegal drug trade by seizing assets.
“I’ve asked [Lao authorities] to help arrest drug suspects who have fled to Laos. There are as many as 54 arrest warrants. If these people are handed over to us, we can expand the investigation, and trace and seize their assets.”
Mr Somsak said some illegal online gambling websites are tied to drug syndicates, which use them to launder their money.
Maj Gen Khamking said the Lao government was keen on working closely with Thailand to curb the spread of narcotic drugs.
He said that he and Thai Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong had also agreed to push the issue during their recent meeting on further collaboration.