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Leading anti-drug enforcer warns Thailand is becoming an emerging hub

Jack Burton

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Leading anti-drug enforcer warns Thailand is becoming an emerging hub | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: A small meth lab raided in the Shan State, one of many thousands of undetected facilities, hidden under the jungle canopy – Daily News

Thailand is becoming a major conduit for drug cartels, according to Niyom Termsrisuk, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board. The growth of meth labs has exploded in the lawless Shan State of Myanmar, north of Chiang Mai, with better roads and newer, smaller, transportable meth factories keeping ahead of attempts of enforcement.

An ongoing case involving smuggling drugs from Thailand to Australia shows that “Thailand has become a connecting point for the Golden Triangle and destination countries, due to its convenient transportation.”

A case of drug importation from Thailand to Australia in April was again in the spotlight this week as suspects appeared in court over Australia’s largest-ever seizure of methamphetamine, which was shipped from Bangkok in stereo speakers.

In April Australian police found vacuum-packed packages containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin, valued at 24.8 billion baht, hidden in speakers at the Melbourne waterfront. They tracked down the smugglers, 38 year old Stephen Mizzi, and two married customs agents, Rachel Cachia, and Donovan Rodrigues, both 37 years old, who were all sentenced to life in prison.

Police seized 1,580 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, and 72 kilograms of heroin.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda has ordered police nationwide to keep their eyes peeled for drug trafficking during the New Year period.

A police spokesperson says police and authorities will step up counter-smuggling measures, including beefing up border checkpoints. Security forces have also been told to watch for smugglers coming across the mountains in Thailand’s north.

The ONCB is expected to set up more vehicle checkpoints and ramp up efforts to fight drug addiction in communities, the Bangkok Post reports, and police will step up campaigns against drug use in schools and nightclubs.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

Around 9,000 people to face charges for allegedly defrauding travel subsidy scheme

Caitlin Ashworth

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Around 9,000 people to face charges for allegedly defrauding travel subsidy scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

Around 9,000 people will face criminal charges for allegedly defrauding the “We Travel Together” subsidy scheme which was launched to stimulate the economy and to help hotels and restaurants that were struggling after the lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk says the police plan to prosecute around 9,000 people for conspiring with hotel operators and shop owners to cheat the government subsidy scheme. The scheme, launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, covered 40% of room rates and issued 600 baht and 900 baht food vouchers for food and travel.

Lower rates on rooms were intended to draw in more travellers, but a number of hoteliers allegedly raised their prices to get more subsidies. Some even created fake hotel bookings. Last month, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn filed a complaint against 312 hotels and 202 shops for allegedly cheating the scheme, saying legal action needed to be taken before the launching the second phase of the scheme.

Yesterday, police arrested 50 people in raids in Chiayaphum and Phuket for allegedly cheating the scheme. Police say some suspects faked shopping receipts and inflated room rates.

Natchaya Resort in Chaiyaphum was raided by police after it made excessive room reservations and subsidy claims for unusually high spending at local shops.

Deputy commander for the Crime Suppression Division, Anek Taosupap, says Natchaya Resort has only 10 rooms, but since July, records show 9,263 people had checked in for a total of 92,028 room reservations. He says that amounts to 1,000 to 3,000 fake room reservations per day.

Police say the losses linked to the resort amount to around 14 million baht and the embezzlements linked to 101 local shops add up to 87 million baht.

Police arrested the hotel owner and 22 shop owners as well as people who allegedly controlled the beneficiaries’ accounts and people who allegedly opened bank accounts to embezzle money. Another person who recorded room reservations for the hotel was also arrested.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Hotels and restaurants raided, 50 arrested for allegedly cheating “We Travel Together” subsidy scheme

Caitlin Ashworth

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Hotels and restaurants raided, 50 arrested for allegedly cheating “We Travel Together” subsidy scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

Several hotels and restaurants in Phuket and Chaiyaphum were raided this morning and 50 people were arrested for allegedly stealing from the government subsidy scheme “We Travel Together.” The scheme was launched to help businesses that were financially hit by the lack of tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic and to stimulate the battered economy.

Last month, the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn filed a criminal complaint against 312 hotels and 202 shops for allegedly cheating the scheme which covered 40% of room rates and offered e-vouchers. Instead of lowering prices to draw in more travellers, some hoteliers and restaurateurs allegedly raised their prices to get more subsidies.

This morning, police arrested 38 people in Chaiyaphum and 12 people in Phuket suspected of cheating the subsidy scheme. Suspects, including hotel and restaurant operators, face charges ranging from fraud and false identification to misusing electronic cards and adding fraudulent information to the computer system.

Nation Thailand says the verification system for the scheme was not stringent and people were able to register fake hotels and list fake bookings. Some hotel operators recorded higher prices for rooms to get a bigger payoff from the government.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

16 Thai Navy officials investigated for alleged involvement in drug trafficking

Caitlin Ashworth

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16 Thai Navy officials investigated for alleged involvement in drug trafficking | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Royal Thai Navy is investigating 16 of its officials for alleged involvement in a drug trafficking operation earlier this month in the Isaan province Nong Khai which borders Laos. If the officials are found guilty, the Navy will immediately take both disciplinary and legal action, according to a spokesperson.

Local officials reportedly seized 2 million amphetamine tablets and 116 kilograms of methamphetamine from a suspect who allegedly smuggled the drugs across the Mekong River, which borders the province. The suspect allegedly fled the scene.

2 Navy officers took the drugs from local officials, saying they would secure the evidence and hold a press conference, which never happened, according to a complaint filed with the Anti-Corruption Police by the Crime Victims Assistance Club chairperson.

“About 20 minutes after the drug seizure, two men who claimed that they were officials from Navy’s Mekong Patrol Operation Command took the drugs from Nong Khai officials, saying that they would secure the evidence and later hold a press conference on the drug seizure… However, the press event was later cancelled.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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