Thai screening for outgoing cargo found wanting after huge heroin drug consignment failed to be detected before being flown out from Bangkok concealed within a cargo of timber. It was subsequently seized by police in Taiwan. It comes as last weekend’s arrests of an African gang distributing cocaine in the city’s hotspots has left police sifting through a treasure trove of information that reportedly identifies high profile and wealthy individuals who regularly buy the more expensive drug.
A huge shipment of heroin went undetected as it cleared its way onto a flight from Bangkok to Taiwan. This was revealed by senior officials in Bangkok on Thursday as a shakeup was ordered from the top. The news comes after last weekend’s arrest of an African cocaine smuggling gang in the city which is believed to have put police on the trail of other players in the network which supplied the niche and premium priced drug to many well-known personalities, entertainment celebrities and wealthy individuals through several city centre hotspots. Police with the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) also revealed that the African gang targeted Thai women as drug mules often holding out the prospect of marriage to secure their cooperation.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Santi Prompat, has announced a shakeup by Thailand’s Customs Department linked with the screening of outgoing exports by plane from Bangkok to more successfully detect narcotics.
The re-organisation came after a huge seizure of 446 kg of heroin in Taiwan that was found to have originated in Bangkok.
An investigation revealed that an X-ray machine deployed to scan outgoing goods failed to detect the massive drugs shipment concealed amid 2,000 planks of wood.
Sniffer dogs and ramped up random testing deployed to target drug shipments flying out by air freight
It is understood that officials at the Customs Department have now requested police tracker dogs to be used in the course of future inspections to detect drug consignments while the random testing regime for outgoing goods is to be upgraded.
Details of the new testing regime were given by Patchara Anuntasilpa who said the frequency of inspections of outgoing goods will rise.
These will be linked to the exporter’s profile. In addition, spot checks will be expanded to now target 20% of consignments from a previous level of 10%.
The seizure in Taiwan has also led to discussion among Thai police units and government agencies on how to bolster the security of Thailand’s borders.
Thailand – a narcotics transit hub
Thailand is a transit hub for narcotics worldwide flowing across its borders with Myanmar and Laos.
The kingdom has long been used as a transit point for Golden Triangle drug producers, on its borders, to supply the Asia Pacific region in addition to European and American markets.
The Narcotics Suppression Bureau Commissioner, Mr Sarayut Sa-nguanphokhai, is also working with Thai military authorities to discuss the strengthening of operations to combat the drug menace.
Mr Wichai Chaimongkhon, the Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in Bangkok has also met with Mr Jeremy Douglas of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the aftermath of the incident.
Top triad executive ranked number six in the organisation and who is responsible for liaising with operations in Myanmar’s Shan State and China
Mr Douglas, earlier this year, warned that drug lords in militia-controlled areas on Thailand’s border with Myanmar were boosting their operations through enhanced drug production capacity.
Top narcotic suppression official briefs top Australian Federal Police liaison officer on the screening blunder
These discussions were also joined by Mr Simon Lalic of the Australian Federal Police.
Australian police, in particular, are working closely with the Royal Thai Police to collapse a powerful Chinese drug-dealing mafia thought to be responsible for sales of $17 billion since 2017.
The massive Asian Pacific drug trafficking syndicate named ‘Sam Gor’ is also called ‘The Company’ by those involved or who have connections with it.
It is led by Tse Chi Lop who was arrested in Amsterdam in January 2021.
Concern about large Chinese drug gang which appears to have mobility to operate easily in Southeast Asia
In July, a Dutch court approved the extradition of the kingpin who has several senior lieutenants, some of them believed to be active in Thailand.
Police officers are concerned about the ability of this gang and others like it to remain mobile in Southeast Asia often through the use of 2nd passports as well as their ability to undermine state efforts against them through bribery and corruption.
Police smash South African cocaine gang led by Nigerian men who entered Thailand illegally
At a lower level in the illicit drug distribution world, police in Bangkok led by the Central Investigation Bureau, the Immigration Bureau, anti-trafficking units and the military smashed an African led cocaine smuggling network with the arrest, last Saturday, of five people, three of them Nigerian and two Thai nationals in the Phra Khanong district and the Khlong Tan area of the Suan Luang district of the city.
The Nigerian members of the gang are understood to have entered Thailand illegally 4 to 5 years ago.
Media briefing hears the men targeted Thai women as key partners in their cocaine distribution racket
In a media briefing after the arrest and subsequent interrogation of the suspects, police explained that the men had managed to recruit Thai partners to create a cocaine distribution business in the Bangkok area.
The arrest and debriefing of the gang members has led to a separate investigation being opened by the Royal Thai Police into their extensive drug dealing network in the capital city which is said to include many high profile individuals, entertainment figures and wealthy people.
Avalanche of intelligence on drug network players and high profile, wealthy customers in central Bangkok
An officer with one of the police units, Police Lieutenant Colonel Ronnakorn Sukmongkol, said that information supplied by the gang members and investigative work by the force revealed an avalanche of information including evidentiary links to co-conspirators involved in supplying the expensive and niche drug to the upper echelons of Thai society.
Police are understood to be tracking payments and financial information amongst the intelligence hoard which has fallen into their hands.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Ronnakorn has said that police are following the evidence trail in the case and those involved or found to be guilty of wrongdoing will face prosecution under the law.
Nigerian’s modus operandi included targeting women as drug mules including offers of marriage to some
He indicated that many of the gang members and those linked to the network were what he termed ‘people of colour’ or from Africa.
Senior officers within the Royal Thai Police have long voiced concern about definite ties between African nationals and drug dealing in Bangkok as well as ongoing financial scams.
The policeman, over the weekend, explained that a modus operandi for the African suspects and others in the network was to procure Thai wives or girlfriends who appeared to be actively involved in the criminal enterprises launched by the men.
Cocaine valued at ฿1 million or 413.3 grams seized by police last weekend during arrests in 2 districts
Saturday night’s operation was overseen by Deputy National Police Commissioner and Chief of the Central Investigation Bureau, Police Lieutenant General Jiraphop Phuridech.
A total of 413.3 grams of cocaine was seized with a street value of ฿1 million.
The three Nigerians arrested had entered Thailand illegally, police confirmed. They were named as 40-year-old Daniel Onyekachukwu Ngwu, 38-year-old Alfred Divine Chika and 37-year-old Gabriel Obidimma Obiechefu.
The two Thai nationals were 43-year old Kanyarat Hawakot and 25-year-old Assadawut Mansom.
Customer base of well known and wealthy people including some entertainment celebrities
Briefing the media, Police Lieutenant General Jiraphop said the three Nigerians had attempted to marry Thai women as part of their efforts to establish their lucrative city centre drug trafficking network which targeted a range of entertainment venues in the city.
Their customer base included wealthy and well-known people including celebrities as well as affluent foreigners.
The top cop said the men had preyed on vulnerable Thai women attempting to use them as drug mules, importing drugs often concealed within the women’s bodies or luggage.
Women coached on how to behave on drug runs
He said the women were coached extensively on how to comport themselves when being processed through Suvarnabhumi Airport on drug shipment runs into Thailand.
Police Lieutenant General Jiraphop revealed the Nigerian men had confessed fully to their crimes and will face severe charges relating to their drug distribution activities as well as a criminal charge for entering Thailand illegally.
They had been apprehended in an elaborate police sting operation that drew them out so undercover police officers could arrest them in the process of conducting another illicit drug deal for profit.