Indian caught with meth ingredient
PHUKET: A 31-year-old Indian, Katchi Mohamed Buhari Ahmed, was arrested yesterday evening (August 5) at Phuket International Airport (PIA) after customs officers found his two travel bags stuffed with 10 kilograms of ephedrine sealed inside 20 briefcases.
Monday 6 August 2012, 04:59PM
Ephedrine is a “precursor” chemical issued to produce the drug methamphetamine, sold in Thailand in pill form (known as ya ba) and crystalline form (known as ya ice).
Ten kilograms of ephedrine is enough to produce more than 500,000 ya ba pills with a street value of up to B100 million.
Mr Katchi is reported to have flown from Delhi in India to Suvarnabhumi Airport with Thai Airways and then on to Phuket on the same aircraft.
He admitted that he had been paid US$5,000 (B150,000) by a man whose name he did not know to carry the two bags to Thailand. After landing in Phuket he was supposed to board a bus to Haad Yai where the two bags would be delivered to another man.
Officers suspected that the bags would be taken across the Thai border to a “neighbouring country” where the drugs would be manufactured.
At PIA yesterday (August 5), Mr Katchi was caught after he went to customs to pay import tax for the 20 made-in-India briefcases. Officers were suspicious, believing that this was a ploy to avoid having his luggage X-rayed.
Finding that the briefcases were unexpectedly heavy, officers cut them open and found plastic bags containing the ephedrine attached to the insides of the briefcases, covered with a layer of fabric.
Katchi tried at that time to make a run for it, bursting out of the customs office, but was caught by another officer.
He has denied knowing anything about the ephedrine. However, officers suspect that he may actually be quite familiar with drug smuggling; records show that he had passed through Suvarnabhumi Airport four times before being caught.