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4.6 million methamphetamine pills found on som tam vendor turned smuggler



PHOTO: Police seized 4.6 million speed pills (pictured) and no som tam (not pictured) from a vendor turned smuggler. (via Pattanapong Sripiachai)

If you like your spicy papaya salad with a little extra kick, a som tam vendor in Nakhon Phanom was arrested today with 4.6 million speed pills. The woman was apprehended when border patrol police in Tambon Saenphan searched her pickup truck and discovered 10 big fertiliser bags holding 4,622,000 speed pills.

The woman told police she earned her money making and selling som tam and supplemented her income doing day labour. But her side hustle transporting illicit drugs was far more profitable. She was working to provide for her 14 year old and 3 year old sons after her husband was locked up with an 8-year prison sentence for a drug conviction.

The 31 year old woman turned to drug smuggling to make ends meet and alleged she did a delivery last month for the first time, netting her a 200,000 baht payout (about 2 years’ salary at the Thai minimum wage). After her first success, she says a drug gang contacted her and offered 400,000 baht to move this large shipment of 4.6 million pills that had been brought in across the Laos border.

After the bust, police plan on investigating further and attempting to trace the supply chain and arrest higher-up operatives. Drug running is common in the province as it borders Laos where massive drug distribution takes place. Over 20 million speed pills have been confiscated in Nakhon Phanom just since the beginning of the year.

Last year 5.7 tonnes of crystal meth were impounded in the northeastern provinces of Thailand, a staggering increase from the 266 kilogrammes that were uncovered throughout 2019, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Laos has become an essential part of the drug trade in Southeast Asia in part because of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the political turmoil in Myanmar which have lead to tightening the porous Burmese border and thus restricting the flow of methamphetamines and other illegal narcotics. Drug smugglers have rerouted to move drugs through Laos in order to enter into Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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