Police show off recent drug hauls including 9.8 million meth pills and 77kg of heroin in Chiang Rai. Photo: AFP/Bangkok Post/Apichart Jinakul
Police show off recent drug hauls including 9.8 million meth pills and 77kg of heroin in Chiang Rai. Photo: AFP/Bangkok Post/Apichart Jinakul

Narcotics suppression officials displayed a huge haul of illicit drugs on Monday after several large drug shipments were intercepted in the notorious area known as the Golden Triangle in the northwest of the country.

The massive hauls were seized on October 13 and 14 and were put on display on Monday at a media conference at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau headquarters in Bangkok. 

Police in northern Chiang Rai province had seized 20 million methamphetamine pills, known locally as ya ba, or crazy medicine, and 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at two locations on October 13 and 14 in Chiang Khong and Mae Lao districts. 

In the first major haul in Chiang Khong district on October 13, narcotics suppression police arrested three alleged drug traffickers – Withoon Piyapipattarakul, Witthaya Wongbunchailert and Awichart Songsitthaichaoren – and charged them with smuggling 12 million methamphetamine pills and 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine discovered in the back of three pickup trucks. The drugs were hidden in 30 fertilizer sacks. 

Each fertilizer sack contained 400,000 methamphetamine pills and two of the sacks contained a total of 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. 

The drug trafficking gang drove pickup trucks and parked on the roadside in Phaya Mengrai district, then moved to Chiang Khong district. A police team moved in to intercept the gang, but they managed to drive away and escape. However, Withoon and Witthaya were arrested 1-2 kilometers away and Awichart was detained nearby. 

In the second major haul, locals notified officers at the Provincial Police Region 5 unit that they had found 50 fertilizer sacks containing 10 million methamphetamine pills in a forest in Mae Lao district.

Officers went to the location and found the methamphetamine pills 80 meters into the forest between Mae Lao and Parn districts near the Mae Lao River. Each fertilizer bag contained 200,000 pills. 

In another major drug bust on October 14, officers from the Provincial Region 5 unit set up a checkpoint on Thoeng-Chang Rai Road after a tip-off that drug traffickers were moving a big load. At about 1am, police spotted a pickup truck which they stopped and searched, but the driver managed to escape.

On the same morning, locals found fertilizer sacks inside a forest and police assumed a drug trafficking gang became scared and dumped their load with a plan to return for it later.

Police later announced a total of four busts where they seized 1.8 kilograms of marijuana, 7.9 kilograms of cocaine, weapons and other items from drug traffickers. 

Despite politicians and law enforcement officials vowing to crack down or launch a war on drugs, very little progress appears to have been made to stem the flow of illegal substances from neighboring countries.