07/15/2020, 12.36
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Drug trafficking growing as crackdown and COVID-19 restrictions ease

Mountains of methamphetamine crystals were seized this year in Thailand after Myanmar eased its crackdown and pandemic restrictions.


Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mountains of crystal methamphetamine, aka "ice," have been seized this year as a result of a major crackdown in Myanmar, causing an influx of the drug into Thailand, Office of Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk said on Monday.

The latest shipment of crystal meth was intercepted on Saturday, said Mr Niyom, when a six-wheel lorry was stopped for a search at a checkpoint in Phun Phin, a district in Surat Thani. Forty sacks containing around 1,200 kilos of crystal meth were found under sacks of cow dung. Three men were arrested.

Crystal meth is being trafficked through Thailand more frequently and in larger quantities because drug stocks have piled up at production bases, the ONCB secretary-general explained.

Since the start of the year, crystal meth trafficking has been largely frozen due to a government crackdown in Myanmar as well as restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, resulting in rapidly growing stocks.

As suppression and pandemic restrictions ease, traffickers have resumed distribution. Intelligence operations have revealed that since the beginning of fiscal 2020 there have been 17 deliveries of more than 11 tons of crystal meth across Thailand.

Most of the seized drugs were heading south, for shipment by sea to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia.

In Myanmar, local authorities have seized more than four tonnes of ice, believed to be on their way to Thailand for shipment to third countries.

Since Thailand borders with the drug producing Golden Triangle and has major land, air and sea communication routes, it is hard not to be used for shipment to other regions.

According to a study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Thailand and other countries in the Mekong River basin are now facing serious problems involving drug smuggling, particularly ice, because of the proliferation of synthetic drugs in East and Southeast Asia.

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