Huge drug hauls in "Safe Mekong" operations

Huge drug hauls in "Safe Mekong" operations

A number of people were arrested and a large quantity of drugs seized in recent operations under the "Safe Mekong" project implemented by Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China, Office of the Narcotics Suppression Board secretary-general Permpong Chawalit said on Sunday.

In an operation involving ONCB officials, police from the Narcotics Suppression Bureau and military officers from the Pha Muang Force in the North, arrested five drug suspects in San Kamphaeng, Muang and Fang districts of Chiang Mai and Mae Suay and Muang districts of Chiang Rai provinces on Sept 24.

They were identified as Veerawat Udomrojanakul, of Chiang Mai's Fang district; Santi Khamphingchai, of Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district; Nathapong Suwan, of Chiang Mai's Mae Taeng district; Chaphleo Sa-ngae, of Chiang Rai's Mae Suay district; and Palo Yayi, of Chiang Rai's Mae Suay district.

Seized in the operation were 1.5 million methamphetamine pills and 39 kilogrammes of ice or crystal methamphetamine.

Information from the suspects led to a subsequent search of roadside bushes on Sept 25 along the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai road in tambon Choeng Doi of Chiang Mai's Doi Saket district. Officials found three one-metre deep holes.

Hidden in the holes, which were covered with tree branches, were 856,000 methamphetamine pills, 3kg of ice, and 103 bars of heroin weighing about 36 kilogrammes.  

Altogether 2.3 million methamphetamine pills, 42kg of ice and 36kg of heroin were seized.

In searches of the suspects' houses, the authorities seized seven cars, one motorcycle, a three-baht weight gold necklace and a house in tambon Pong Nam Ron in Fang distrct of Chiang Mai; a plot of land in Chiang Mai's Saraphi district; a shop selling farming materials in Chiang Mai's Chai Prakan district; a house in Chiang Mai's San Kham Phaeng district; a house in Chiang Mai's Mae Rin district; 750,000 baht cash; a bank account with 1.1 million baht; and 76 bank accounts used for transferring money in the drug trade.

Mr Permpong said the operations were carried out with the cooperation of China, Laos and Myanmar through the Safe Mekong Coordination Centre.

In Thailand alone, since Jan 12 the authorities have been able to arrest 418 drug suspects in 356 cases and seized about 17 million methamphetamine pills, 121kg of crystal methamphetamine, 98kg of heroin, and 652-million-baht worth of assets believed to have been acquired through drug dealings.

In all four countries, the authorities have arrested 7,923 suspects in 7,329 cases and seized 104 million methamphetamine pills, 287kg of ice and 352 kg of heroin.

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