It is reported that the Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, Wichai Chaimongkol, has filed a complaint urging drug suppression police to hunt down and arrest the man who rented a warehouse in Chachoengsao which was raided on November 12th in what police had thought was the largest ever seizure of ketamine that later turned out to be 466 bags of a food additive. It is understood that a shipment did leave the warehouse at an earlier stage and police have intelligence that links the man involved, to a drug-dealing cartel in Taiwan.

On the same day that Thailand’s Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, took responsibility for an international embarrassment after what appeared to be the biggest ketamine drug haul in history valued at ฿30 billion turned out to be a legal substance, Thai drug suppression authorities hit back. They swooped on a home in Bangkok and arrested a 34-year-old woman who had disbursed nearly ฿2.2 billion to holdings in Myanmar since police began an investigation into her and a local drug kingpin in the last year. The arrest coincided with the seizure of nearly ฿200 million in assets.

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On the same day this week as Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, stood in front of the media and took responsibility for the premature announcement of Thailand’s biggest-ever ketamine seizure on November 12th, said to be valued at ฿30 billion but which later turned out to be sacks of a quite legal food additive, police and narcotic suppression officials raided a home in the Lat Phrao area of Bangkok where they arrested a 34-year-old woman who acted as a treasurer for a Myanmar based drug cartel. The raid saw assets of nearly ฿200 million seized by police.

Thai police are preparing a case to present to a court to obtain an arrest warrant against a man who is believed to have fled to the north of Thailand and was responsible for the embarrassment after the Thai Justice Minister admitted on Tuesday, that the record seizure of the illicit narcotic, ketamine, announced on the 12th November was, in fact, premature and erroneous.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the minister and other officials accepted that the announcement of the ฿30 billion seizure of drugs contained in 466 sacks at a warehouse in Chachoengsao had turned flat after forensic officials at an Office of the Narcotics Control Board facility in Pathum Thani later adduced the substance to be a completely legal food additive known as trisodium phosphate.

Legal compound used as a food additive and stain remover turned field test kits purple on the day the Chachoengsao warehouse was raided by police

Trisodium phosphate is quite a legal compound used as a food additive in milk to remove colouring and other substances as a cleaning agent.

The minster, Mr Somsak, took full responsibility for the affair when he spoke with reporters. 

‘I accept the fact it might have been premature to hold a press conference to announce the seizure of a substance suspected to be a kind of drug,’ he said. He explained that officials had talked with the relevant United Nations agency about the false-positive analysis and it suggested that similar mistakes had been made in other countries.

The substance caused a field drugs test to turn purple indicative of illicit drugs on November 12th only to have the seized substance confirmed later as legal after it was laboratory tested in Pathum Thani. Two different police agencies had reported a positive test on the substance in the field.

Police linked a man who rented the facility to a Taiwanese drug cartel as minster accepted responsibility for ‘premature’ announcement

‘The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDC) said this also happened two or three times in other countries. This was the first time in Thailand. Moreover, on the day I held the press conference, I did not say it was 100% ketamine,’ Minister Somsak explained to the press.

The minister, however, highlighted that the search of the warehouse was linked with police intelligence indicating a criminal conspiracy.

He told reporters that there was a firm link between the man who had rented the warehouse facility from its owner for ฿70,000 a month this year and a drug cartel in Taiwan.

‘But in this case, the ONCB had been informed of the seizure of ketamine in Taiwan, investigated and found an undeniable link to it. It would have been a mistake if I did not make it public,’ Mr Somsak explained.

Special investigation team hunting the man

It is understood that a special police investigation team has been sent to northern Thailand to hunt down the man who rented the warehouse. 

Officials believe it may have already been used to export illicit drugs to Taiwan in September after uncovering official records to suggest that a shipment was made.

Thailand is fighting a growing war with powerful drug overlords in the Golden Triangle region who are producing staggering quantities of manufactured narcotics for export through Thailand as a gateway heading to other parts of Asia via Taiwan, Australia and on to Europe.

Warehouse was used to export drugs say police

Wichai Chaimongkol of the ONCB or Office of the Narcotics Control Board has filed a complaint with the Police Major General Pornchai Charoenwong of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau of the Royal Thai Police to pursue and interrogate the man linked with the warehouse.

Officials are adamant that the man, who rented the facility purportedly to store furniture, had used it as a base to export illicit drugs from Thailand.

The ONCB is also conducting a series of seminars for its personnel and agents including foreign officials working with allied governments such as the United States in the fight against drugs in the kingdom over the next few weeks to explain which substances may give a false positive test when using reactive agents.

Viral publicity fails to diminish resolve of drug suppression police as they smash another network

The raid and the seizure gained worldwide attention this month and so too, the attentive foreign media pounced on the story when it appeared that Thai police had been duped.

However, Thailand’s drugs suppression officials did not let it break their stride and, on Wednesday, they announced another raid which led to the arrest of a key figure in a cross border drugs network based in Myanmar, a woman treasurer who processed the crime gang’s loot.

The raid in Bangkok saw assets initially seized alone valued at over ฿186 million when police swooped on her home on Tuesday.

34-year-old, Ms Lin Chal, was arrested in the Lat Phrao area of the city. Her arrest led police to confiscate two properties, cars and cash. The seizures included ฿30 billion in local currency bank deposits and a further ฿97 million held in US dollars.

Provincial Police Region 6 had tracked the Bangkok based woman since 2019 before last week’s raid

Police were also searching for Ms Lins’ boss known as Mr Thapanan Thamratthada, also known as Nu Chen. The drugs kingpin is being hunted down together with a sidekick named as Yong Wongsawangkul.

Provincial Police Region 6 have been working on the case for some time.

The investigation followed a seizure of crystal meths in October 2019 during which one drug courier named as Kerdchana Mina, was arrested by security services as he made his way into Thailand from Myanmar in the Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi.

The detained man volunteered information to authorities and identified the drug kingpin and the woman working with him who handled all financial and monetary dealings.

Companies in Tak province and in Minburi

Authorities found that Ms Lin had set up two Thai companies, one in Mae Sot, in Tak province and the other in the MinBuri area of Bangkok. The latter was called Sunday World Trading Company and was declared as a dealer in processed wood which was stored at the facility as concealment for drugs.

While monitoring Ms Lin’s affairs, police discovered that she had transferred nearly ฿2.2 billion in funds to accounts and concerns in Myanmar. The relevant information has now been passed on to drug suppression officials there.

Thai courts have had a particularly severe sentencing policy for those, like Ms Lin, who facilitate drug distribution for kingpins operating on both sides of the country’s porous borders with the Golden Triangle to the north. 

 A Myanmar woman running a money-changing business from kiosks, 43-year-old Mying Thein Aye, was sentenced to death by a court in Bangkok in January 2019 for facilitating such operations.

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Further reading:

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One of the biggest drug dealers in the South flees home as Thai police and army move against him

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Thai man burns down his family home: Thailand’s drugs problem is still a very real threat to society

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