Attempt to smuggle drugs worth over RM100m into M'sia foiled

BANGKOK: Thai authorities thwarted a major attempt by an international syndicate to smuggle large amounts of drugs into Malaysia including 262kg of "Ice", estimated to be worth RM100 million in street value.

Several people were nabbed in coordinated operations at different locations in Songkla and Hatyai from Feb 19 to 22, including two Malaysian men who are believed to be senior members of the syndicate.

"The two Malaysian men, age 39 and 44, were arrested in a rented house in Kohong sub-district, Hatyai with 98kg of 'Ice' on Feb 22. We believe they were working for a Malaysian drug lord," said Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), here, today.

The Thai authorities believe the men had used Hatyai, a popular town near Malaysia as a transit point to receive the drugs before smuggling it across the border using cars.

The rented house in Hatyai was used as a "safe house" to store the drugs temporarily, before the men made the audacious attempt to smuggle the illegal consignment into Malaysia.

"Their presence raised suspicion as they did not hold any job in Hatyai and rented the house for a long period of time," said the NSB, adding that it also seized two Malaysian-registered cars, seven cell phones and four "big bags".

The authorities also found their Malaysian passports.

Hours after the arrest of the two Malaysian men, the Thai authorities stormed an apartment in Hatyai and arrested a non-Thai man and seized another 48 kg of "Ice", cell phones and SIM cards.

The 55-year-old man holds an ethnic group card and originally came from Mae Sai, Chiangrai in northern Thailand.

According to the NSB, the arrest of the two Malaysian men was a culmination of intelligence gathering effort and two anti-drug operations launched by the Thai authorities on Feb 19 and 20 in Bangklam district, Songkla.

In the first operation on Feb 19, undercover officers from the NSB discovered 20 kg of "Ice" during a stakeout at Lop Buri-Rames Road, Bangklam following intelligence information.

"The authorities received intelligence information that several Malaysian drug dealers would be handing over 100 kg of 'Ice' to unidentified persons at a petrol station near the road, but it never materialised and instead we found the drugs," said the NSB.

In the second operation on Feb 20, the authorities arrested a Myanmar man and a Thai national at Suthatip Village, also in Bangklam district and seized a large haul of drugs.

The haul included 96 kg of "Ice", 100,000 Yaba pills, 2,600 Ecstacy pills, 960 gm of Ketamine powder, 266 bottles of liquid Ketamine and 1,140 Erimin-5 tablets.

Besides the drugs, the authorities also seized cars, cell phones and a motorcycle from the arrested men. — Bernama