Crackdown on prison drug trade

File photo of a drug bust.

As part of a new campaign to tackle drug trade by inmates, several teams of anti-narcotics agents and police raided several locations in Bangkok and other parts of the country, arresting suspects and seizing assets worth Bt61 million (S$2.4 million) in total.

The joint operations, titled "Expansion of Drug Trade Networks: First Round", involved several military and civilian anti-narcotics agencies as well as local and narcotics police together with US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)'s Far-East operations.

The raids targeted 10 dealers from three networks based in 19 locations in six provinces - the aim was to tackle the three networks run by three high-profile inmates. Four suspects, who are related either by blood or marriage to these three inmates, have been arrested.

Operations under the First Round campaign will run until Saturday and they are aimed at tackling eight drug-trafficking networks operated from inside prisons.

The team hopes to nab 42 dealers in 44 locations in 17 provinces, Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Permpong Chaovalit told the press.

To effectively combat drug trafficking, the assets of traffickers must be frozen and seized, while more charges must be filed against inmates behind this racket above the ones they are already serving sentences for, Permpong said.

The four people arrested in yesterday's raids will be subjected to the heaviest penalties, while carry death sentences that would be punishable to the inmates involved themselves, he added.

The three networks targeted yesterday were run by Soros Phongkahjornsak and Sakda Lertrassamithat, who are incarcerated at Ratchaburi's Khao Bin prison, and Somchai Labcharoen, who is at the central Ayutthaya prison. The four suspects arrested yesterday are either their spouses or relatives.

The raids were conducted in eight locations in Bangkok, two in Ang Thong, two in Nakhom Pathom, two in Ratchaburi, three in Kanchanaburi and two in Nong Bua Lamphu provinces.

The assets owned by the eight networks total about Bt77 million, Permpong added.

The seven agencies participating in the raids were the Army, police, Department of Special Investigation, Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Department of Provincial Administration in addition to the ONCB and DEA.