In the first raid, conducted at about 5pm, a mixed task force – under the command of Thalang district chief Mr Wira Kerdsirmongkol – arrested Ms Chabaprai Gum-naamjun, 44, at a house in the Thepkrasattri sub district’s Moo 4, seizing from her B200, marked as “bate money”, along with 200 grams of fresh kratom leaves.
Authorities were chasing a tip-off about someone smuggling “kilos” of the restricted plant from Surat Thani to sell in small amounts to Phuket teens.
Native to Southeast Asia, the plant is widely used to treat pain, boost energy, alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms, and promote feelings of wellness and happiness.
Nonethless, police charged Ms Chabaprai with having possession of a schedule 5 drug, and detained her while they expanded their investigation.
Meanwhile, at 5.25pm, the task force took notice of a suspicious neighbouring house, and quickly moved in to arrest 25-year-old Mr Piyapun Saenpun, who was caught with four red junglefowl; seven caged tailorbirds; three caged white-breasted waterhens; 12 caged white-rumped shamas; two caged parrots; one caged white-bellied sea-eagle and three bird traps.
The suspect, who admitted he had intended to sell or trade some of the birds, was arrested and charged with catching or trying to catch regulated wild animals, and having possession of protected wild animals, charges which carry up to four years in prison and/or a fine not exceeding B40,000.
Then, at 5.30pm the force moved in to raid another house nearby, seizing six red-whiskered bulbuls, a protected species. There was no one home, however, so police were only able to seize the birds without making an arrest.
Expanding their investigation from their initial arrests, police at 9.10pm raided another Thalang home, arresting 30-year-old Mr Nattapong Leecharern with 1.2 kilos of fresh Kratom leaves, along with one 450cc bottle of infused Kratom drink, charging him with possession of a category five drug with intent to sell.
Simultaneously, the force moved in on another house to arrest 43-year-old Mr Udom Chanojut, who was caught with seven red-whiskered bulbuls and two white-rumped shamas.
Finally, at 9.34pm, the force moved in on one final house, netting 60-year-old Ms Bunjob Menoon with 6.2 kilos of fresh kratom, along with two packs of black plastic bags for separating the leaves.
She was also booked at Thalang Police Station and charged with possession of a schedule 5 drug with intent to sell, a charge which carries a prison sentence of between 2 to 5 years and/or fine of B40,000 to B200,000 (less than 10kg).