Mexican drug cartels eyeing ‘Thai market’: Police

This file photo shows a drug user holding low-grade crystal meth tablets, known in Southeast Asia as "yaba", in Muse, Shan State, along Myanmar's border with China. (AFP Photo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HAWAII, Dec 12, 2019, Bangkok Post. Mexican drug syndicates are trafficking methamphetamine into Thailand and other Asian countries, according to Earl Hampton, deputy director of the United States’ Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATFW), Bangkok Post reported.

Citing reports from US anti-drugs authorities, Mr Hampton said Asian countries are vulnerable to trafficking of meth produced by Mexican cartels.

The Mexican-manufactured drug is similar to the meth produced by drug labs along the Thai-Myanmar border, as both use the same precursor chemicals, he said, adding that Myanmar’s United Wa State Army continues to produce and smuggle the drug into Thailand.

Briefing Thai reporters at the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, Mr Hampton said Thailand remains both a market and a transit point for drug traffickers.

Mr Hampton said the JIATFW, whose mission is to combat drug-related organised crime in the Indo-Asia Pacific, is working closely with Thai police and civilian agencies to stamp out use of precursor chemicals and synthetic drugs.

He also said that Fentanyl, which is blamed for a surge in opioid-related deaths in America, is being trafficked into the US from abroad.

However, despite Mr Hampton’s warning, the Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau says initial checks found no evidence that Mexican cartels are smuggling drugs into Thailand.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief Chinnapat Sarasin insisted smuggling drugs from Mexico would be uneconomical given there were existing sites for cheap production of narcotics on Thailand’s border.

“I think Mexican drugs are not a worry compared with meth smuggled from neighbouring countries,” he said, adding this was a chronic problem.

Meanwhile, police on Wednesday announced the arrest of three suspects in two anti-drug missions. Among them was Malaysian national Magesh Muniandy, who allegedly smuggled nearly 100,000 sedative-like Nimetazepam pills into Thailand.

Mr Muniandy was nabbed while allegedly delivering the drugs to Songkhla’s Hat Yai district. Investigators believe the drugs, which are usually sold as an ecstasy (MDMA) substitute, are being “trial marketed” here.

Police say they also intercepted a Khon Kaen village head along with his accomplice at a petrol station in Udon Thani’s Kumphawapi district, as the duo were trying to smuggle 300 kilogrammes of marijuana into the country. The suspects admitted the cannabis was for clients in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, officers said.

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