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Western African drug network more arrests Made

Western African drug network more arrests Made

Three members of a Western African drug network have been arrested in connection with more than five kilos of cocaine being smuggled into the country from the US on March 6, the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) announced on Monday.

The three suspects, whose names were not given, were arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport on March 7 as they waited to pick up clothing racks imported from the US, which were found later to conceal 5.4 kilogrammes of cocaine inside them. 

The arrest was jointly conducted by the Airport Interdiction Task Force (AITF), the ONCB, Narcotics Suppression Division 3, and the Customs Department.

ONCB secretary-general Pol Lt Gen Panurat Lakboon said on Monday the suspects were members of a Western African drug gang involved in trafficking and other crimes on Soi Nana Road in Bangkok.

The arrest came after the ONCB kicked off its drug suppression operation on Soi Nana, codenamed “Nana Oun Jai (Safety Nana),” a month ago.

As part of the operation, Pol Lt Gen Panurat said Prin Mekanandha, director of the ONCB’s Narcotics Law Enforcement Bureau, was investigating a link between Western African drug gangs with drug-related crimes on Soi Nana. The bureau was tipped off about the link earlier.  

The investigation revealed that the gang sold illicit drugs in the entertainment venues on Soi Nana. The gang was also thought to be implicated in other crimes including human trafficking.

The arrest subsequently led to authorities’ raid on the three suspects’ apartment in the Samae Dam area of Bang Khunthian district, with the tools used for drug packing and smuggling, including plastic bags and digital scales, seized during the operation.

The ONCB has confirmed the three foreign suspects have colluded with the Western African gang in exporting the drugs to Thailand since 2020. They are connected to at least four cases in which 12.7kg of cocaine and 6,613 ecstasy pills were trafficked, involving seven other foreign nationals and a Thai woman. 

The ONCB will work with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to expand the investigation into the Western African gang, said Pol Lt Gen Panurat.

The AITF has successfully arrested 49 suspects from 41 narcotic drug-related cases last year, up from 32 suspects in similar cases captured in 2022, according to Pol Lt Gen Panurat.

Credit Bangkok Post

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