Police have raided a network of drug stores and arrested 20 employees for selling illegal amounts of cough syrup to adolescents for making a drug cocktail known as 4×100.
The arrests were made at 19 outlets operated by three licensed drug stores, at locations in Bangkok and Pathum Thani.
Details were released by Pol Maj Gen Anant Nanasombat, commander of the Consumer Protection Police Division, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) secretary-general Paisarn Dunkum and other senior officials on Friday.
They said 20 people were arrested and cough syrup, anti-histamines and many other medications, with a combined worth of 2.4 million baht, were seized.
Pol Maj Gen Anant said the raided premises were branches of three drugstores run by Mr Thanakit, Mr Thanathep and Mr Khomphit. He did not disclose their surnames.
He said the three men had obtained permission to open many drug stores so they could get quotas to purchase large amounts of cough syrup and anti-histamines, which were mainly sold to adolescents.
Investigators learned that the drugstore were selling more than the three bottles of cough syrup allowed each time to each buyer, exceeding the legal limit. The cough syrups contained diphenphydramine, promethazine and dextromethorphan.
Authorities had limited purchases of cough syrup by individual drugstores to a maximum 300 bottles a month, and sales of cough syrup to individual customers to a maximum three bottles each time, to prevent drug abuse, Pol Maj Gen Anant said.
Teenagers bought cough syrup to mix with other substances to make a drug cocktail known as 4×100.
He said it was shocking that most of those arrested during the raids were not qualified pharmacists. Some had no more than primary level schooling.
Two of them would be charged with colluding in selling counterfeit drugs and illegally transporting and storing medications. The other 18 would be charged with working as a pharmacist without being qualified.
Worasuda Yoongthong, of the FDA’s Drug Control Division, said the raided stores were a network operated by the three suspects for the purpose of selling cough syrup, anti-histamines and the pain killer tramadol (a synthetic opioid) to adolescents wanting to make a drug cocktail.
Police display bottles of cough syrup and packets of pain killers and anti-histamines seized from drugstores in Bangkok and Pathum Thani. (Photo supplied/ Wassayos Ngamkham)