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Patrolling The Mekong ep.5: Thai police call for cooperation to combat drug trafficking


12-22-2016 12:37 BJT

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Joint Patrol and Law Enforcement initiative between China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand on the Mekong River.

Our special six-part series continues, and in this episode our reporter Meng Qingsheng spoke to officials from the Thai police department during the 52nd joint patrol mission. They explained about the drug trafficking activity in the Golden Triangle, and measures they've introduced to counter the problem.

A multinational effort to keep the Mekong River free from crime. Suriyong Wutthi is the Thai commander on this joint patrol mission. He says that while overall security has improved, drug trafficking remains a big problem in the region.

“To root out the issue of drug-trafficking, countries along the Mekong must work together. The Thai government has implemented strict laws, and prohibited people from taking drugs into the Golden Triangle via the Mekong River," he said.

Golden triangle, is one of the world's most extensive drug producing areas. Back in 2013, Mekong Nations started the Safe Mekong joint operation to combat transnational threat of illicit drugs. They share intelligence on the known movement of narcotics here. For Thailand's part, it's now working to seal off the region and crack down on illicit drug trafficking.

Thailand established the Mekong Operation Center in January 2012. Police at the center conduct a 24-hour patrol near the Golden Triangle every day.

Montri Phoomsa-Ard leads the team to combat drug trafficking. He says that despite their best efforts, there’s no controlling the continuous influx of drugs.

“Drug trafficking groups are now trying every means possible to bring drugs into Thailand. It’s still difficult for them to do it via the Mekong River. Thailand has deployed several law enforcement teams in the region. However, as the workload is demanding, it’s impossible to stop them all,” he said.

In early December, a Thai patrol killed six drug traffickers from Myanmar. Officials say over 550 thousand methamphetamine tablets were seized, along with 30 kilograms of heroine. The country has taken measures to stop drug trafficking and abuse.

"We work hard to educate the young about staying away from drugs. We have appointed staff from the police department to do this job," said Montri Phoomsa-Ard, Dep. Director, Mekong Operation Center, Chiang Saen, Thailand.

"Besides, we set up checkpoints at many locations to stop drug trafficking, and crack down on large scale drug-related crimes.”

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has warned of a rise in drug trafficking instances in the Golden Triangle.

Myanmar remains southeast Asia’s top drug producer, followed by Laos and Vietnam.

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