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Opinion: Working together to win the war on drugs

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Lt Col Somkid Boonrat, from Songkhla province, is chief of the investigation department at the Phuket Provincial Police Station. After graduating from the Royal Thai Police Cadet Academy, he continued on to earn a bachelor’s degree in law from Ramkhamhaeng University and a master’s degree in business administration from Prince of Songkhla University. Lt Col Somkid has been head of the investigation department since January this year.

Here, he talks about his top priority as a police officer – tackling drugs, their smugglers and their users – and what needs to be done to win the drug battle.

PHUKET: I pay close attention to all crimes that occur in Phuket, as it is my duty as an officer in the investigation department. They are all my responsibility. However, I consider drug crimes my top priority because they are committed so often on the island.

As Phuket is a popular tourist destination, drug issues are hard to tackle. Not only are Thai people involved, but foreigners as well. I think the number of tourists that come here, and their apparent willingness to partake in drugs, increases the amount of drugs smuggled onto the island. Foreigners also pay a higher price for them than locals, which is an incentive for dealers to smuggle in and sell more drugs.

Therefore, we keep a close watch on tourist-attraction locales such as Bangla Road, Patong Beach, Karon Beach and Promthep Cape.

There are two main ways that drugs make it onto the island, by land and by sea. We do not find much through the airport. Even though we strictly control these pathways onto the island, we can’t catch everyone. Criminals will always find a way to commit their crimes.

Drugs are a national problem, not just here in Phuket. Even though I try my best to rid the island of drugs, they are still an issue, as they exist in other provinces as well. What we need to do is find out who is bringing them onto the island, and how, and eliminate them. All provinces must work together on this in order for us to be successful.

We already know who Phuket’s biggest dealers are. However, we cannot reveal their names or locations – this is confidential information. We are in the process of gathering evidence against those in the various drug networks and waiting for an appropriate time to make an arrest. The public will always be notified after this happens.

Prominent drug dealers are not just in Phuket. As mentioned in a recent story about a 17-year-old drug runner who was arrested here, he was not only working for a Phuket dealer, but also for dealers in Phang Nga and Krabi. Hence the need for co-operation between provincial authorities.

Although it is the responsibility of police to track down and arrest people involved in drugs, we are not the only ones who should be fighting against them.

All government and private institutions and citizens should work together to end drug use in Thailand.
Families, friends, schools and communities should help each other. Parents must pay more attention to and discipline their children, and keep an eye on them. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to drug use. If there are problems at home, many young children will turn to drugs.

Police often go out into the communities to educate families about drug use, the negative effects it can have and how to prevent it. We can make arrests all day long, but the problem should be stopped at its roots. This is why we need everyone to work together, especially families and close friends.

 

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