The Ministry of Justice has seized more than 10 billion baht in assets from a drug network operating in and around the kingdom this year following the implementation of the new narcotics code.
Minister Somsak Thepsutin on Thursday announced the outcome of Thailand’s narcotics prevention and suppression performance review during a conference attended by local and foreign officials, including Jeremy Douglas, representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Pol Maj Gen Banpot Mungkhemklang, chief of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.
During the event, Mr Somsak responded to questions regarding a narcotics epidemic, saying criminals were using advanced technology to increase meth pill production by 4 million pills per day as opposed to the previous 64,800 per day.
With the cooperation of the seven groups under the network, their production capacity would reach 280 million pills per day, which would reduce the price of each pill, resulting in an epidemic, he said.
Therefore, he said he was encouraged by since-suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to suppress the problem, prompting him to carry out the plan to revise the narcotics code on Dec 9, last year, to facilitate officials tracking down key players in the drug trade, enabling the retroactive seizure of assets.
“I needed to quickly solve the problem as the value of narcotics [assets] were worth a lot more than the amount we could freeze,” he said.
With the new law in place, agents have the authority to freeze assets going back ten years, prompting a massive freeze of 10.8 billion baht in the drug network’s assets this year, he said.
He said that the law also allowed agencies to conduct retroactive investigations of passbook accounts suspected of illegal activities.
In one instance, account owner Buachan Khaoin transferred money to 4,971 destination accounts, prompting the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) to freeze 287 of them, worth 372 million baht.
“In the next fiscal year, I’ve set a target to seize 100 billion baht in assets,” he said.
Wichai Chaimongkhon, secretary-general of the ONCB, said this year’s performance is the result of joint efforts in Myanmar and Laos.
The Princess Mother National Institute on Drug Abuse Treatment has warned about a new narcotic dubbed ‘Happy water’ that comes in liquid or powder form that some teens are using. (Photo: Office of the Narcotics Control Board)