Suspicions were aroused when seven well-wrapped boxes, all the same size and all about the same weight, arrived on the same day from Bangkok.
“One of the staff at the Phuket Post Office notified us and we sent plain clothes officers to wait for the recipients to pick up the boxes,” said Lt Col Chatchai Sakdee of the Phuket Marine Police. “When they did, we presented ourselves and asked to search the boxes.”
On Tuesday, three pairs of men came to retrieve the packages.
The first arrived at 12:30pm. Saka-riya Deu-rae, 29, and Mapandee Madeeyoe, 25, claimed three.
When police searched the boxes, two of them, weighing a total of 10.2 kilograms, were found to contain kratom leaves and the last held four cartons of illegal cigarettes.
Shortly afterward, Abdullartev Jeni, 22, Waehamah Tonahoon, 27, picked up a 4.4kg box found to contain kratom leaves. Then at 1pm, Porn-Anan Cheryjit, 23, Yuranan Wanna, also 23, picked up a 5kg box that also was packed with kratom leaves, Lt Col Chatchai said.
Yesterday the last box, which weighed 5kg and also held kratom leaves, was claimed by Usaman Kayaedalae, 23, and Muyat-deedee Dorlorh, 22.
All of the suspects have been charged with possession of a Category 5 Drug. Mr Saka-riya and Mr Mapandee, because they were caught with more than 10kg of the leaves, were also charged with intent to sell. The pair were also charged for the possession of more than 500 grams of illegal tobacco, Col Chatchai said.
Each box carried the name of a different sender; but none of the names showed up in the national ID database, leading police to conclude they were fake.
“The suspects have been transferred to Phuket City Police Station. We will question them to determine who the sender is,” Col Chatchai said.
Kratom arrests continue despite national-level moves which began last year to decriminalize possession of the leaf (story here).
Kratom trees are native to Southeast Asia. However, their leaves have been designated a controlled substance, in the same category as cannabis, since promulgation of the Kratom Act in 1943.
— Woranut Pechdee
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