Governor claims “success” in drugs war
PHUKET TOWN: Phuket’s campaign in the first month of the national war on drugs has been a “success”, Phuket Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi announced yesterday at the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization meeting hall. The Governor, the leader of the campaign in Phuket, said that 88 suspected drug dealers have been either arrested or killed between February 1 and 27. This figure, he added, was unofficial, and officials noted that there had been some “confusion” in compiling arrest figures from the island’s 13 police stations during the month. The Interior Ministry had ordered each province to arrest at least 25% of named drug-dealing suspects by the end of February. Phuket, said the Governor, has easily exceeded that target, arresting 85 people – around 37% of those on its list of 240 suspected drug dealers. Phuket Town had the highest number of arrests, with 45 suspects nabbed, while 22 were arrested in Kathu and 18 in Thalang. Three suspected dealers on the so-called “blacklist” were shot dead in February. No arrests have been made for these murders. Gov Pongpayome said that police checked 183 locations, including homes and commercial properties, for drugs during the month and arrests were made at 24 of these places. Of 262 people stopped at road blocks set up by police, 16 were arrested on drug-related charges, he added. Over the same period, 81 people admitting to being drug dealers and 659 self-confessed drug addicts turned themselves in to the authorities under an amnesty program that ended yesterday. The Governor also said that, before the start of the war on drugs on February 1, Phuket had already arrested 68 suspected drug dealers from its original list of 308 suspects. Commenting on the success of the campaign in Phuket so far, the Governor laughed, “I’m not sure whether people will be happy or sad that I’m still the Governor.” Official arrest figures will be announced on Monday.
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