Thai PM Launches new war on illegal drugs

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The Office of the Narcotics Control Board is planning to target major domestic drug gangs and transnational syndicates from Africa and the Middle East in a bid to weed out trafficking and distribution of illicit drugs.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is expected this month to announce a new war on drugs.

The year-long campaign will focus on suppression in the northern provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son bordering Burma, the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, and inner Bangkok.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who oversees the government’s campaign, will call a meeting of anti-drug agency chiefs soon to explain the new campaign and insist that it must be conducted according to the letter of the law.

The announcement by Mr Suthep last month that a new war on drugs was being considered raised concerns of a repeat of the earlier campaign waged in 2003 by Thaksin Shinawatra, in which as many as 2,600 people are believed to have been killed.

None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.

Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) adviser Pittaya Jinawat said yesterday his office would take a proactive approach in dealing with illicit drugs. It would survey which communities were under the influence of drug gangs and so were prevented from alerting authorities about the illicit drug trade.

Mr Pittaya said anti-drug centres in every district and province would be asked to update their information. This would even include those areas declared “drug-free zones”.

The ONCB planned to keep a close watch on four types of drug network: experienced drug traffickers, newcomers, gangs operating in prisons and transnational drug gangs from Africa and the Middle East.

A total of 124,481 suspects in 114,550 drug cases were arrested last year to Dec 20. Most of the cases involved speed pills (91,799 cases/97, 998 suspects), followed by marijuana (8,279 cases/9,223 suspects).

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