Island View: Put War on Drugs into rehab

PHUKET: Two major drug busts last week saw about 3.6 million pills of ya bah (methamphetamine) seized in just two raids, but the news has thrown into sharp focus just how ineffective the War on Drugs has become.

Together, the two hauls netted an estimated 1.8 billion baht of meth – a clear indication that the War on Drugs is now nothing more than a placebo on the palate of the infected.

If the incessant reports of small-time drug users posted by the Phuket Gazette highlight anything, it is how ya ice (crystal methamphetamine) has become the drug of choice among the youngsters and other commoners.

But in the two raids on the outskirts of Bangkok last week, within 72 hours of each other, the world saw it is the cheap, reliable ya bah making a comeback, not a surge in demand for the trendy ice version.

And were it our intrepid law-enforcers who fouled the drug ring? Nope. The second raid was staged only after low-paid staffers at a gas station in Pathum Thani called the cops after noticing that a six-wheeled refrigerator truck had been abandoned at the station for more than 10 hours.

National police chief General Somyos Pumpanmuang led the press conference to announce the raid, but even he was not armed with enough information to be able to tell reporters whether or not any of his entire force had arrested the man in whose name the truck is registered.

Two days earlier, in reporting the first raid in Nonthaburi, Gen Somyos skipped the bit about how police came to know about the drugs.

In that raid, the two men arrested apparently confessed to being hired to deliver the drugs to “the South”, which could be anywhere from Chumphon to the north to Tak Bai on the Malaysian border, and includes Phuket.

The men, both from Chiang Rai, said they were hired to deliver the drugs for 50,000 baht. Have the police done the math yet? These men now face the death penalty for the volume of drugs they were delivering. So, if the mules are willing risk their lives for such a pittance, the volume of drugs is not the problem. It’s the demand, and the low cost and ease with which the drugs can be acquired.

By the way, any person willing to risk his or her life for a measly 50,000 baht should be honored with immediate entry to the Armed Forces, not executed.

But it was only a few years ago that a Phuket Vice Governor at the time hit the nail on the head.

Joined by Col Jirasak Siemsak of Cherng Talay Police Station and Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) Vice President Siri Yokthong, Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada sat down at a coffee shop in Bang Tao, on Phuket’s west coast, with the local village headman, an imam and government officers in the area (story here).

“In order to solve the drug problem, we need the cooperation of local people,” V/Gov Chamroen pointed.

Yes, indeed. It’s that simple: no demand means no supply. The war on drugs should be fought in the homes, communities and schools, not by the nation’s finest proclaiming victory to the national media through high-falutin’ press conferences.

— Damien Evans

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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