Phuket

Arrest your friends, minister tells governors

BANGKOK: Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha wants provincial governors to arrest any of their friends or relatives believed to be involved in the illicit drugs trade, the Bangkok Post reported today. Meeting governors yesterday, he said Bangkok wants them to focus on large-scale dealers rather than small ones. He also told them to seize all drug dealers’ assets, the newspaper reported. “To prove the government is serious and spares no one, in March and April you will arrest big dealers – suspects such as provincial councilors and local politicians – four to five in each province,” K. Wan Nor was quoted as telling the meeting. He was reported as ordering the Governor of Yala to arrest two relatives alleged to be involved in drugs, adding, “Friends who sell drugs are your enemies in this war.” Governors who perform well will be promoted while those who do poorly will be “punished”. To encourage governors to perform these duties zealously, the minister said they would be rewarded with 30% of the value of drug-related assets seized. A further 15% would be set aside for police detectives. In addition, the family of any governor killed fighting the war on drugs will get 500,000 baht in compensation. “Governors should be happy that they will not die for free,” the Post quoted K. Wan Nor as saying. Governors were also ordered to set up special offices to gather information on drug dealers and addicts who had surrendered, such as details of their ID cards, vehicles, bank passbook numbers and phone numbers. The Anti-Money-Laundering Office will tap their phone lines if they are suspected of getting back into drugs. To stop them returning to the drug trade, suspects may also lose their gun licenses, and be banned from crossing the border to neighboring countries and from running entertainment venues, the Post reported. More than 20,000 drug producers and traffickers have been arrested, and 40,000 people have surrendered on drug-related matters since the war on drugs began five weeks ago. More than 1,000 people have been killed. K. Wan Nor claimed the war on drugs had led to a 10% cut in non-drug crimes, especially physical assault cases. In Phuket, Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi today revealed that assets worth some 35 million baht were seized by the authorities in the five years up to February 1 – before the war on drugs began. “Most of the seizures were of cash or vehicles. We have never publicized the seizures – I myself learned about them only recently, and I don’t know any details,” he said. “But I believe that most of the assets were seized from Thais.”

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