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Neighbour countries increase drugs
- Subject: Neighbour countries increase drugs
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 00:10:00
Subject: Neighbour countries increase drugs inflow
November 23, 1998
Neighbour countries increase drugs inflow
Being the border province in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai has been
noted as the major route for drug smuggling into the country and
concerned authorities are admitting one major factor which has
aggravated the problem is the spread of drugs in neighbouring
A source in the Northern Narcotics Control Office (NNCO) in
Chiang Rai said drug abuse is a cross-border problem which needs
solutions and cooperations at a bilateral level.
A report of the NNCO revealed that while planting areas and
production of opium in northern Thailand are dramatically decreasing,
drug problems still exist as the major sources are in neighbouring
A United Nations survey found that at least 2,000 tons of opium are
produced in Burma each year, half of which are used for local
consumption, and the rest used to produce 80-100 tons of heroin each
Laos is also reported to be a generating source of 200 tons of opium
each year, but the entire amount has been used up for consumption by
hilltribes people living in Laos and along the Thai-Lao border.
Since 1995, heroin manufacturers in Shan state in Burma have turned
to produce amphetamines in place of heroin because of low
production costs, easier manufacturing processes, and stronger
According to the NNCO report, there are five amphetamine
producing factories along the Thai-Burmese border and about four to
five factories along the Thai-Lao border. The produced drugs are
smuggled into Chiang Rai through border districts such as Mae Sai,
Maefahluang, Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Wiang Kaen, and Thoeng.
In Chiang Rai, the survey between 1997 and 1998 found 1,000 rai left
for illegal planting of opium.
The production amount, however, are not sufficient for consumption
by ethnic minority groups. These highlanders therefore have to buy
raw opium from both neighbouring countries at higher prices. (The
price has increased from 3,000 baht to 12,000 baht per 1.6 kg.)
There are three main routes of drug smuggling from Chiang Rai. The
first route starts from Mae Sai district, through Mae Chan,
Maefahluang, Chiang Saen district, before entering Phahonyothin road,
passing Phayao province, and towards Bangkok.
The second route starts from Chiang Rai, passing Phayao, to Song
district of Phrae, through Uttaradit and Phitsanulok, before heading for
Bangkok. The third route starts from Chiang Rai province, passing
Thai-Lao border, entering Nan province, and heading towards the
Prices of drugs are variable. Wholesale price of opium along the
border is about 5,000-6,000 baht per one joi (1 joi=1.6 kg), while the
retail price in the villages is about 10,000-12,000 baht per joi.
Wholesale price of heroin at the border is about 200,000 baht per
kilo, while the retail price is about 1.5 million baht a kilo. Wholesale
price of amphetamines at the border is about 18-20 baht per tablet,
while the retail price is about 60-80 baht per tablet.
The report revealed that about 1.10 percent of population in Chiang
Rai are drug addicts, half of them hilltribes people who use opium and
heroin. Since 1997, amphetamines have been widespread in the city,
particularly among students at secondary and university levels.
Last year, police confiscated 4.5 million tablets of amphetamines from
1,654 suspects arrested in Chiang Rai. A report from January to
September this year disclosed that 3.5 million amphetamine tablets
were confiscated and this figure is expected to reach five million by the
Several attempts have been made over the past to manage the drug
problem along border provinces. Highlanders are target groups
because they are easy to become addicted or lured into the illicit drug
For these highlanders, it is their tradition to smoke opium to alleviate
body pain and other types of sickness. Several methods have been
done in the past to treat hilltribe drug addicts, but those attempts failed
due to lack of necessary skills, knowledge and follow-up measures.
The United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP)
has initiated a three-year sub-regional project on reducing illicit drug
use in the highlands of East Asia.
The project is designed to pilot test community-based and sustainable
approaches to illicit drug use prevention and consumption reduction
among the ethnic highland people in Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma,
Thailand and Vietnam.
The project objective is "to develop community, national and
sub-regional capabilities to reduce the illicit use of drugs and related
social problems among selected highland ethnic minority groups."
Three villages in Chiang Rai have been chosen for project experiment
in Thailand. They are Baan Ah Lae in Maefahluang district, Baan
Paendin Thong in Thoeng district and Baan Huailou of Wiang Kaen
After one year of implementation villagers are now developing a better
understanding about drug problems, and become participants in
different steps. Many have agreed to quit smoking opium after realising
that the drug could destroy their families.
Maefahluang district chief Manas Sokanthika said poverty and a lack
of farmland prompted a number of hilltribes people to enter the drug
business. Though not being addicted to amphetamines, these
highlanders became sellers and smugglers themselves.
Nimit Wanchaithanawong, Thoeng assistant district chief, said some of
the highlanders in his district are involved in drug rings. For example,
some of the villagers in Ban Paendin Thong are believed to belong to
drug gangs and so far police have been unable to reach them.
© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 1998
Last Modified: Mon, Nov 23, 1998
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