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Woman arrested after stashing ya bah pills near Phuket school



PHUKET: Police yesterday arrested a woman who stashed close to 2,000 ya bah (methamphetamine) pills on top of a phone booth in front of a primary school in Phuket Town.

At a press conference at Phuket City Police Station today, officers asked the press not to release the identity of the woman as doing so could compromise the ongoing investigation into who supplied her with the narcotics.

The 36-year-old Phuket native, who appeared wearing a balaclava, was arrested at 9am on Thursday on charges of possession of 2,430 ya bah pills with intent to sell.

Phuket City Deputy Superintendent Chaiwat Auykham said drug suppression investigators received a tip-off that a woman would place the narcotics atop a phone booth in front of the Piboonsawaddee Municipal School, a primary school on Damrong Road.

After she made the drop-off, police followed the suspect to nearby Amphur Road, where she lives and works.

Police found 600 pills inside the home and placed the suspect under arrest.

The officers then returned to the phone booth, where they found a box containing a new car air filter.

Inside the filter were 1,830 ya bah pills in nine packages, Lt Col Chaiwat said.

“She said she was ordered to pick up the box of ya bah from Phuket Bus Terminal 1 [on Phang Nga Road], where it arrived aboard a bus from Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat,” said Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pekad Tantipong.

“She said she was hired for 12,000 baht for this job [receiving and delivering the ya bah] and that it was her second time doing it,” Maj Gen Pekad said.

Her confession would be “very useful” in helping investigators bring down the drug network that hired her, he said.

Police methods to catch drug dealers need to change from time to time, Maj Gen Pekad said.

The traditional method of setting up sting operations directed up the supply chain was not as productive as in the past because dealers were so well aware of it and took extra precautions, he said.

“We have to change by investigating and asking drug addicts who they bought the drugs from,” he said.

“If three or four addicts all confirm having been supplied by ‘Mr B’, for example, we will investigate Mr B. If there were enough witnesses and evidence, we would then seek an arrest warrant from the court,” he said.

This method can result in convictions without having to catch dealers in the act or in possession, he said.

However, this approach means police officers may have to work harder in order to find enough witnesses and other evidence to gain a conviction, he said.

Drug arrests were once again the most common criminal charges in Phuket last month, according to figures released by the Phuket Provincial Police.

A total of 288 people were arrested in 266 cases, a 94.2% increase from February 2011.

Evidence seized in those cases amounted to 7,638 ya bah pills and 243 grams of ya Ice (crystal methamphetamine), according to the figures.

— Janpen Upatising


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