The police sent a strong reminder Thursday that weed in any form remains illegal by announcing the arrest of four men, including a Brit and Canadian, suspected of exporting cannabis oil on an industrial scale.
The Narcotics Control Board said the suspects; Englishman Joseph Toole, 67; Canadian David Kulik, 64; Suriyan Suwanchairob, 34; Suppakij Kaewma, 54; were detained Monday and charged with multiple counts relating to the production, possession and sale of Class 5 narcotics from their Samut Prakan factory for over a year.
Following raids earlier this week, the authorities said they seized 70 kilograms of cannabis oil, 6.6 kilograms of the drug in resin form and related tools.
According to police, Toole and Kulik were arrested in Chonburi province, while Suriyan and Suppakij were found in Sakon Nakhon and Bangkok respectively.
They were accused of producing and exporting cannabis oil, which remains illegal under current drug laws, to several countries including Belgium. They allegedly obtained the raw materials from drug rings in Thailand and Laos.
Deputy police commissioner Chalermkiat Sriworakan said the department was tipped off about the group back in March and found their contraband hidden in shredded coconut shells shipping out of the Laemchabang Port. Some of the shipments made it to Antwerp, Belgium, he said.
Gen. Chalermkiat said the initial investigation points to Kulik being one of the investors, while Toole, a former doctor, was in charge of production.
He added that the group is believed to be headed by a Japanese investor. It’s estimated to have exported at least five metric tonnes of cannabis oil to Belgium, which might not be their sole destination. He said investigators are still unsure where else the group sent their products to, and whether more people were involved.
A bill legalizing medical cannabis and kratom is currently under review by the National Legislative Assembly.