Kiwi teen in Phuket court tomorrow

PHUKET: A 17-year-old New Zealander arrested in Patong for possession of diazepam pills remains stranded in Phuket, where local police admit they are not seeking to arrest the seller of the drugs.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police source told the Gazette his team asked the teenager where he bought the pills, but the youth declined to answer.

“He had the right to say nothing when asked a question he didn’t want to answer,” the source said. “But he accepted the charges against him.”

“Normally, if we know where a suspect bought Valium we check the shop,” he said. “If they don’t have a license to sell the drug or they’ve sold it without a prescription, we arrest them as well.”

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The young Kiwi, due to appear in Juvenile Court tomorrow, cannot be named under Thai law. He has confessed to the charges against him.

In the early hours of December 7, he got on the back of a motorcycle taxi with nine diazepam pills, more commonly known as Valium, stashed in his pocket.

When Kathu Police officers saw the pair riding over a section of sidewalk on the Patong beach road, they stopped and searched the pair and arrested the young Kiwi.

More than five weeks after he was originally due to fly home, he remains in Phuket on bail.

“We’re trying to hurry up the process for him because we understand that he has to go back to school,” the source said.

Recently released statistics from the Phuket Provincial Police show this was the only arrest for diazepam possession in Phuket in 2009.

Over the same period, police seized 253 pills and 8 grams of alprazolam (trade name Xanax), arresting 18 people.

While such drugs are difficult to obtain without a prescription in most parts of Thailand, they remain readily available in tourist centers such as Patong.

High-ranking sources in the Phuket Provincial Health Office said shops registered with their office to sell category four drugs are allowed to do so on a discretionary basis and in small amounts – typically 10 pills or fewer.

Such shops must have a license and most have a Thai-language sign indicating that such prescription medications are available there over the counter.

Other big sellers in such shops include erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil citrate (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

Drug arrests in Thailand carry stiff penalties for adults, but the Juvenile Court system is based more on rehabilitation than punishment. First time offenders are seldom incarcerated for small seizures unless they are associated with violent crimes.

— D Waites & K Pornmongkhonwat

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

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