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Phuket Police squash meth ring

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Phuket City Police have arrested a boyfriend-girlfriend team of major drug suppliers, seizing over 6,000 ya bah (methamphetamine) pills in the process.

Also arrested in the operation were several dealers working for the couple and some of their customers.

The busts were announced at a press conference at Phuket City Police Station yesterday morning.

Phuket Police Commander Pekad Tantipong and Phuket City Police Superintendent Wanchai Ekpornpit identified the local head of the drug ring as 33-year-old Wisan ‘Beer’ Damkham, a resident of Phetchaburi.

The busts started with the arrest on Tuesday of Chaisak ‘Tik’ Jaiman, who was caught in possession of 600 ya bah pills and forced to inform on his supplier, Mr Wisan.

A search of Mr Wisan’s room in the Baan Suan Place apartment block on Soi Bangyai, behind Big C in Wichit, uncovered the largest ya bah haul in Phuket in some time: 5,800 pills, along with a 9mm pistol, 58 rounds of ammunition, a customers list and an account document.

Also arrested in the room was 35-year-old Kanchanaburi resident Jiraporn Klincharoen, described by police as the live-in girlfriend of Mr Wisan.

Mr Wisan was charged with two weapons counts and one count of selling a Class 1 drug, while Ms Jiraporn was charged with possession with intent to sell.

Subsequent investigations ended in the arrest of five of Mr Wisan’s sub-agents and customers.

The first was identified as 22-year-old Supphachai ‘Boy’ Phetthong from Trang, who was caught with 170 pills in his room at the Sodsri Apartments on Soi Susanti, off Mae Luan Road in Phuket Town.

He was charged with possession with intent to sell.

Four others were arrested for possession of three or fewer pills in rooms inside the same apartment block.

Ms Duangduen Hom-ob, a 24-year-old from Chanthaburi, was caught with seven pills in room 119 of the Nopphadol apartments in Phuket Town. She was also charged with possession.

Mr Wisan confessed to buying 5,800 pills from another big dealer in Phetchaburi at a price of 270 baht per pill, then selling them in Phuket at 300 baht each.

The profit margin, if accurate, may reflect that drug dealing is quite a competitive business on the island.

The pills were smuggled into Phuket passing through the Tha Chat Chai Police Checkpoint by a messenger aboard a bus from Phetchaburi.

“Ya bah smugglers always bring it to Phuket by bus, packing it into their luggage because they know it is too time consuming to thoroughly check every passenger’s bag. That’s why we have to rely on tip-offs by informants,” Maj Gen Pekad said.

Asked about the Alpha 6 substance detectors that are still in use by some drug units in Phuket, he said, “They are useful, but it takes quite a long time to find the drugs because the police who use the units must hold them very still.”

The Alpha 6 units use the same “molecular resonance” technology as the now-discredited GT200 bomb-detection devices.

Eight of the Alpha 6 units, bought at a cost of around 400,000 baht each, have been in use on the island since December 2009.

The Science and Technology Ministry in February said it was set to test the effectiveness of the Alpha 6 units, but no results have been reported thus far.

However, Maj Gen Pekad said he thought the future of drug detection on the island may rest on four legs, not dowsing rods.

“Searches using drug-sniffing dogs might prove more useful. The puppies ‘Nin’ and ‘Chao Kuay’ should be ready for active duty by the start of next year,” he said.

He was speaking in reference to two mongrel puppies owned by Muang District Chief Supachai Pochanukul. They are being trained in drug detection at the Phuket International Dog School on Koh Sireh.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

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

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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