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Airport narcotics checks tightened

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Airport narcotics checks tightened | Thaiger

PHUKET: A food and drug checkpoint will open at Phuket airport tomorrow to try to prevent travelers bringing in illegal drugs or suspiciously large quantities of legal medication. Bangkok and Chiang Mai already have food and drug checkpoints; the one in Phuket will be the first in Southern Thailand. It will be at the international arrivals entrance, and will be open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, with an officer on call at other times. The officials manning the desk, who will be from the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), will also assist customs officers in determining whether cargo contains illicit substances. Somneuk Harsem, a pharmacist at the PPHO, told the Gazette, “We will be checking for illegal drugs such as ya bah (methamphetamine), heroin and morphine. We have quick tests for these drugs, and can also check food or medical equipment being brought in.” Dr Boonrieng Chuchaisangrat, Chief of the PPHO, said that more people are bringing drugs and food to the island, adding that some passengers bring large quantities, yet say it is for personal use. “The checkpoint is a good idea because customs officers don’t have much specialist knowledge when it comes to identifying drugs,” he said. “Sometimes passengers try to sneak a couple of ya bah pills through, in a pocket or in their shoes, and claim that it is medicine. Customs officers don’t have the expertise to tell whether it’s ya bah.” Although he did not say why passengers would hide legal medicine in their shoes, he predicted that the new arrangements would make drug traffickers “more apprehensive” about bringing narcotics into Phuket.

 

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