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Myanmar-Thai border mega bust. 15 tonnes of drug-making chemicals.

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By Jessada Chantharak

A 15 tonne batch of sodium cyanide that could have been used to make millions of methamphetamine pills was seized and Chiang Rai man was arrested last week when a smuggling operation into Myanmar from Thailand was intercepted.

Truck driver, 41 year old Sawat Kaewdam, is facing charges over alleged illegal entry and failing to obtain a permit to transport a hazardous substance into Myanmar. The seized sodium cyanide could be synthesised into phenyl-2-propanone, a narcotic substrate and used to produce about 295 million methamphetamine pills. Sawat was nabbed in the Myanmar border town of Tachileik, thanks to the Thai-Myanmar police collaboration, a senior official said on Sunday.

Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Sirinya Sidthichai told a press conference in Bangkok about the interception and arrest by officers of the Myanmar Police Force’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC). The ONCB had in May received a report from Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen Custom Checkpoint that someone had applied to transport sodium cyanide from Thailand to the Myanmar city of Yangon through the Mekong River.

The checkpoint refused the request as the Agreement on Commercial Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River prohibited the river transport of dangerous substance such as sodium cyanide.The exporter then kept the chemical at a Chiang Saen warehouse.

Sodium cyanide is designated a “hazardous substance type 3” under the Hazard Substances Act 1992, and its manufacture, import and export, or possession requires a permit from the Department of Industrial Works (DIW), Sirinya said. It also is on a list of substances that, under a 2016 order of the National Council for Peace and Order, is to be monitored for importing and exporting by national security agencies due to its potential use in making illegal drugs.

On June 2, the 300 gallons of Sodium Cyanide, weighing 15 tonnes and worth about 1.5 million baht, were sent to Tachileik via the Mae Sai Custom Checkpoint along with a permit from the DIW, Sirinya said. The ONCB then alerted the CCDAC in Tachileik to investigate.

Myanmar officers found the batch lacked an import permit to Myanmar, seized it for inspection and arrested driver Sawat. Facing charges, the Chiang Rai native claimed he was hired to transport the batch to a gold mine in Yangon. Sodium cyanide is also used to extract gold. Sirinya said the batch – which could produce 295 million yaba pills or 9,500 kilograms of crystal meth or “ice” – had originally been ordered from China to be delivered to Yangon, but it was brought in via Tachileik. Tachileik is a long distance from Myanmar’s capital, a fact that led officials to suspect that its intended use might be narcotics manufacturing.

Praising the Thai-Myanmar collaboration in the drug bust and suspect apprehension and transfer, Sirinya cited a separate drug case as an example.

On May 31, CCDAC in Tachileik had arrested drug fugitive Charoen Kiatpornpanich, 37 – who was part of a gang whose leader 60 year old Yuth Chankaew was arrested in 2014 along with 20 kilograms of “ice”. His three accomplices were also netted, and the gang’s assets worth 35 million baht were subsequently seized.Charoen, later identified as the gang’s drug storing and delivery guy, fled to Myanmar, and so ONCB asked the CCDAC to locate him. Charoen was finally arrested along with 8million baht worth of assets, including 4.2 million baht in cash, 8.4 million kyat (about 200,000baht), a large amount of gold ornaments and a Toyota Alphard mini-van in Tachileik, Sirinya said. In Thailand, ONCB meanwhile seized Chaoroen’s assets worth 12 million baht, including three cars, eight motorcycles, and two land plots plus cash and valuables, he added. The ONCB would soon have Charoen extradited to face drug prosecution in Thailand, he added.

STORY: The Nation

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Nearly 15 million methamphetamine tablets seized in Ayutthaya

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PHOTO: Bernama WebTV

Narcotics police have seized a massive amount of 14.8 million methamphetamine pills hidden in fruit boxes and then stored in a container at a warehouse in the central province of Ayutthaya yesterday (Sunday).

Deputy commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said that the huge drug haul was contained in 1,700 fruit boxes each carrying 200,000 meth pills.

Police explain that a truck left the warehouse for Talad Thai fresh market in Pathum Thani to fetch 1,700 boxes of fruit. The fruit was later partially removed from the boxes and replaced with packs of meth pills before the truck headed back to the warehouse.

Plainclothes police, who had laid in wait near the warehouse, then moved in to make the arrest.

Pol Maj-Gen Tanai said the warehouse was used as a distribution centre to deliver the drugs to customers in central provinces. During the coordinated raid, three men aged 29 and 32 from Chiangmai and Nongkhai were nabbed.

Video of the massive drugs haul here from Bernama WebTV…

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Thailand’s household debt

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Thailand’s household debt has been on the rise over the past decade, up from an average of 116,681 baht in 2007 to 178,994 baht in 2017, but should be measured with commensurate growth in wages, inflation and the country’s GDP.

The figures show that Thailand’s debt for farming is around 16% of the total debt bill. 36% is spent on buying property and land whilst Thais only go into debt for education – around 1.6% of their total borrowings.

More disturbingly Thais are using borrowings and credit cards for keeping their lifestyles and daily costs alive. 39% of all Thai debt is for daily consumption items.

The three provinces that have the highest rate of debt are #1 Pathum Thani, #2 Krabi, #3 Nontaburi. The average debt for all Thais is 179,000 baht. Bangkok has the highest household debt at 202,000 baht per person, Yala the lowest at only 28,000 baht.

SOURCE: The Nation

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