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crackdown on drugs

Police told to get better results

NCPO says ONCB should focus on quality; officials warned

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has given 30 days for drug-suppression units to deliver tangible, better results. Quality - not quantity - should be the focus, it said.

Pongsapat Pongcharoen, secretary general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), spoke after attending a meeting yesterday chaired by the Army's assistant chief Paiboon Koomchaya, who now oversees legal and judicial affairs for the NCPO.

He said officials strictly must not be involved in trading illicit drugs.

"We will use mechanisms that allow us to identify problematic zones within 30 days. That way, we will know whether any official has been negligent or involved in drug trafficking," Pongsapat said.

He vowed to take action against wayward officials and to reward good performers.

Apart from conducting searches and raids to arrest drug traffickers, he said officials must also monitor former drug abusers who have already completed drug-treatment programmes.

"We must try to ensure that they are not going back to the illicit drugs," Pongsapat said. He also planned to use asset-seizure as a measure to deter drug trafficking and to pay close attention to jailed drug convicts.

He said Paiboon had instructed relevant authorities to prevent drug dealing from behind bars. Several inmates have reportedly managed to secretly bring cell phones into correctional facilities and used them to arrange drug trafficking.

"We will seriously tackle this problem," Pongsapat said.

Representatives from 15 agencies, including the ONCB, met with Paiboon yesterday.

In a related development, a team of police and soldiers engaged in a gunfight with suspected drug traffickers in the border province of Beung Kan in the far Northeast early yesterday.

Following the exchange of gunfire, drug traffickers retreated into a boat on the Mekong River and sped away. The group, of seven to eight men, left behind six sacks. An inspection of the sacks revealed they were stuffed with 240 kilograms of marijuana. The haul is worth about Bt2.4 million.

Beung Kan police chief Maj General Chaiporn Panich-atta said security officials saw a "suspicious" Toyota Fortuner leaving the scene during the gunfire.

"We believe that vehicle might have gone there to pick up drugs but left after noticing officials," he said.


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