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Drugs

Thai police seize US$45 million worth of methamphetamine from ‘narcotics corridor’ convoy

Police followed convoy of cars from warehouse in the north to downtown Bangkok, where they raided the vehicles

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 9:12pm

Ten million made-in-Myanmar “yaba” pills and nearly half a tonne of crystal meth hidden in tea packages have been pulled from a convoy of cars in Bangkok, Thai police said on Friday.

The drugs – worth around US$45 million on the local market – were being ferried along Thailand’s “narcotics corridor”, which cuts through the central Thai province of Ayutthaya to Bangkok and then south to Malaysia.

Police followed the four cars from Ayutthaya, which is a key warehousing site for the drugs which pour from Myanmar’s meth labs.

They stopped the cars when the convoy reached downtown Bangkok late on Thursday, police said, uncovering crystal meth concealed in Chinese-branded tea packages and the pill bundles.

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“Six Thai suspects who were paid to transport drugs were arrested,” national police chief General Chaktip Chaijinda told reporters, adding some of the drugs were “destined for foreign countries”.

“They belong to the northern Wa group,” he said, of an ethnic group based in Myanmar’s Shan State which jointly oversees the world’s second largest drug producing region.

Yaba – which means “crazy medicine” in Thai – are methamphetamine pills cut with caffeine and are consumed across Asia, popped by everyone from the party crowd to farmers and truck drivers.

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The notorious “Golden Triangle” – an ungovernable border zone that crosses Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China – is experiencing a boom in drug production.

Massive oversupply from Myanmar has seen the price of a yaba tablet plummet to 100 baht (about US$3) in Thailand.

The much more potent and addictive crystal meth version – “ice” – is also cascading across the region.

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One kilo (2.2 pounds) goes for about $30,000 in Thailand, but the price rises the further it is transported from the source in Myanmar.

Drugs are trafficked south to Malaysia and beyond, while record seizures are also being made along a westwards route from Myanmar to Bangladesh.