Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, who oversees the ONCB, said yesterday (Jan 4) that after visiting the agency he has instructed staff to keep working closely with anti-narcotics agencies in five nations – Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
He said the aim is to destroy poppy fields used for the production of narcotics that lie near Thai borders.
“Although there is no drug-producing site in Thailand any more, illicit drugs still flow into our country and pass through other nations, so if we want to prevent and reduce narcotics in Thailand, we have to work with neighbouring countries to get rid of the root cause,” he said.
ACM Prajin said the ONCB and anti-narcotics agencies in the Mekong sub-region are planning on creating a centralised data source for law enforcement and carrying out joint patrols.
Member agencies have also set up liaison offices in each country and sent their officers to share information with each other.
“Thailand’s liaison office is located in Chiang Mai. The drug-busting unit there consists of authorities from China, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia who are working together. These officials have patrolled areas with records of drug trafficking in search of narcotics across the Mekong Sub-region,” he said.
The member countries have also agreed to exchange arrest warrants against drug suspects.
ACM Prajin said sharing information can play a major role in stemming the flow of drugs in the region.
“If we share information and we cooperate more closely, then we can stop drugs from coming into the region. Many countries now identify Thailand as the transit country not the producer, but we are the victim,” he said.
ONCB secretary-general Sirinya Sitdhichai said member countries have expanded the Safe Mekong project from the northern region into the central and southern regions of the Mekong River, in northeast Thailand.
The joint operations recently destroyed a major drug-smuggling group of 26 networks across the region.
Mr Sirinya referred to another tri-party meeting consisting of Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on securing areas in the Golden Triangle or patrolling the Mekong River. All three countries have agreed to set up checkpoints to intercept the transport of chemicals and drugs.
There are 20 checkpoints in the three countries.
ACM Prajin also called on the ONCB to focus on health care and jobs for drug addicts.
He said the ONCB’s chief goals this year are to intercept substances used to produce narcotics and implement a state policy to make 81,905 communities drug-free.
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