Terractta pots warehouse raided over drugs smuggling

national August 04, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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A Thai warehouse for terracotta pots was searched by police, which allegedly served as a transit point for illicit drugs packaging to be smuggled out to Australia.

National Police chief Priewpan Dhamapong said on Thursday evening that Thai police were contacted by Australian authorities on Monday about drugs hidden in a shipment of two containers of Thai ceramics arriving at Sydney’s Port Botany.

Seven suspects were arrested there – four from Hong Kong, and three AustralianChinese.

About 306kg of crystal methamphetamine (ice), 252kg of heroin and an unstated amount of marijuana were confiscated. The drug seizure was Australia’s biggest lot of ice and its thirdlargest haul of heroin. 

The suspects implicated a Thai terracotta pot warehouse, where the drugs were packaged, in Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district.

Two employees were apprehended, while two other men – Ekkachai Wongsasee and Kasemsak Srimukda – were named in the business registration as persons responsible for the warehouse. Both men are still at large.

Various forms of terracotta pots, many carton boxes, and two grinding machines were found. Forensic police believed the machines were for grinding and pressing cannabis sticks, as some dried marijuana remnants were on the floor.

The employees said they had worked there for a month and received Bt10,000 salary. They said they were unaware that the warehouse may have been used for packaging illegal drugs.

According to police investigators, empty terracotta pots were sent three times to Australia in order to test whether they could mislead authorities. The attempted smuggling took place in the fourth shipment when arrests were made.

Authorities are continuing the investigation in the belief that a larger drugsmuggling ring is involved.

Meanwhile, according to police, a mediumsized cannabis grinding machine was found at another Lam Luk Ka warehouse, which police said was also used for drug smuggling.