Police and drug suppression officers recently seized 150 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine or “ice” smuggled from Chiang Rai to Bangkok and arrested nine gang suspects, a senior official said on Monday.
The latest arrest brings to 12,019kg the amount of ice seized in the country from the beginning of this year, said Sirinya Sitthichai, secretary-general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board. That’s four times higher than the amount seized during the same period last year.
ONCB officers joined with police to bust a major gang and arrest nine members after seizing the 150kg of ice behind the Morchit bus terminal, said Ririnya.
One of the nine arrested, Thanongsak Phanklun, 42, is the suspected No 2 man of the gang, he said. Thanongsak is alleged to have engineered the smuggling of crystal meth from a Myanmar drug boss to the South of Thailand with final destinations in third countries.
Following the bust, the authorities seized the gang’s five vehicles and Bt400,000 in cash.
The action came after the ONCB received tips that the gang would smuggle the drug aboard a bus from Chiang Rai. Officials observed the bus driving to a spot behind the Mo Chit Bus Terminal to transfer the drugs to a pickup truck. They then arrested four suspects at the scene.
Sirinya said five more suspects were later arrested in subsequent investigations.
He said the seized 150kgs of ice was packed in gold teabags and was 95 per cent pure.
Sirinya said that level of drug purity ice was rare in Thailand and indicated that the traffickers were using the kingdom as a transit point to ship the drugs to third countries.
He said the traffickers generally stored the drug temporarily in Bangkok or in other central provinces before then shipping them to the South in preparation for smuggling across the border. Sirinya said the traffickers employed various smuggling techniques, including using boats to smuggle drugs to Australia.
The ONCB’s operations are supported by the Navy and police as well as by Corrections Department officials. The latest arrest was made with tips from some inmates in the Khao Bin Central Prison in Chanthaburi.