Thailand to allow Malaysian police to question arrested drug smugglers

BANGKOK: Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) is willing to let its Malaysian counterpart interrogate suspected syndicate members caught in this country while trying to smuggle a large amount of drugs into Malaysia.

NSB chief Lt Gen Sommai Kongvisaisuk (pix) made the remark after his men successfully intercepted a watermelon-laden lorry stuffed with 300kg of "Ice" (Crystal Methamphetamine) last week in Nakhon Ratchasima heading to Narathiwat in southern Thailand.

According to NSB, the drugs will be smuggled into Malaysia via Sungai Golok, a narrow river separating Narathiwat and Rantau Panjang in Kelantan that is infamous for smuggling activities.

"We (NSB) welcome the Malaysian police if they want to interrogate suspects involved in the trafficking of drugs into the country," he told Bernama, adding that both police forces have been exchanging vital information relating to the latest drug seizure, but declined to delve further into the matter.

According to Sommai, the drugs would probably be shipped to Australia or Europe upon reaching Malaysia, where the price of the drugs will double or quadruple, thus guaranteeing maximum profits for the syndicate behind the smuggling.

Three men were arrested in the lorry transporting the watermelon while four other people including two women were nabbed in Yala and Narathiwat in an ensuing police operation linked with the "Ice" seizure.

A Thai police source told Bernama that they were also investigating the seizure of 200kg of "Ice" in Chumphon, southern Thailand, also last week and whether it was related to the same syndicate intending to smuggle 300kg of "Ice" into Malaysia.

"The style and colour of the drug packaging were nearly the same, leading us to suspect that the same syndicate was behind it," he said, adding that both drug consignments were destined for southern Thailand en route to Malaysia.

Sommai, the head honcho of Thailand's fight against drug smuggling, also said that Bangkok and Putrajaya had long and well-established cooperation in the fight against drug syndicates and drug smuggling.

"If we cannot intercept them (the drug smugglers), the Malaysian police will wait for them," he said and added that besides Malaysia, Thailand also received good cooperation from Myanmar and Laos in stamping out the flow of drugs, especially from the Golden Triangle.

For decades, the Golden Triangle, which straddles the border areas of northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, has been one of the two top opium-producing regions in Asia besides Afghanistan, but now has also become among the world's foremost producer of synthetic drugs.

A source told Bernama that Thai anti-drug officers had been in constant contact with their Malaysian counterparts, especially officers stationed along the border areas.

"Regarding the seizure of the 300kg of Ice, we have been exchanging information with the Malaysians in order to track down the mastermind," he said, but declined to reveal his identity due to the sensitivity of the information he shared.

According to him, the 300kg of "Ice" destined for Malaysia originated from Shan State in Myanmar which had been known as one of the most active Methamphetamine-producing regions where the central government in Yangon exerted limited control due to the presence of various armed groups.

From Shan State, the drugs were then transported to Laos and across the Mekhong River into Thailand where it began its journey to southern Thailand via the land route in the northeast of the country. — Bernama