CHIANG RAI -- A police sergeant major described as an "influential person" was among three people arrested with 180,000 methamphetamine pills after a long surveillance operation in northern Thailand.
Pol Lt Gen Thanitsak Theerasawat, chief of the Region 5 Provincial Police, said Pol Senior Sgt Maj Seri Duangchaiprasert, 49, who was attached to the provincial police headquarters, was caught along with Apinpat Jirapacharapiyavach, 28, and Itthipol Chanta, 41.
The three men were major drug dealers, Pol Lt Gen Thanitsak said. They smuggled drugs from neighbouring countries for sale in Chiang Rai and nearby provinces.
The suspects, who had been under surveillance for some time, were arrested on a road in front of the Edison Department Store on Thai Wiwat road in Muang district on Wednesday night while preparing to deliver speed pills to clients in Bangkok.
Arresting police seized 180,000 methamphetamine pills, two cars, two pistols and three mobile phones from them.
Pol Lt Gen Thanitsak said Pol Senior Sgt Maj Seri was an influential person in the province. He had earlier opened two casinos in a neighbouring country, but fell deeply into debt because of the economic slump. He was known to owe as much as 17 million baht. He turned to the drug trade to get quick money to repay his creditors.
The Region 5 Police chief said he had signed an order dismissing Pol Senior Sgt Maj Seri from the police service and set up a committee to investigate his serious breach of discipline. His assets believed to have been acquired through the drug trade would be seized pending further investigation, he added.