The Thai Mafia

5 Dec 2002

His Majesty takes aim at drugs

King urges national war against scourge

His Majesty the King called for a national war on drugs yesterday while delivering his annual birthday address before cabinet ministers and members of the public gathering at Dusidalai Throne Hall.

The King expressed his concern about burgeoning problems related to drugs and the difficulties facing authorities involved in suppression operations.

The drugs issue appeared to grow more serious by the day, costing the state and taxpayers huge amounts of money, he said.

It was the third time in less than a week that drugs had been mentioned in a royal speech.


6 Dec 2002

PM takes up royal call for war on drugs

Sees need for foreign policy changes

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pledged to work out a more effective foreign policy to combat drugs.

The government would closely follow His Majesty the King's call in his birthday address on Wednesday for a national war on drugs, the premier said.

Mr Thaksin said all members of society must join forces to fight drugs. Also, there must be an integrated strategy to deal effectively with the scourge.

Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, meanwhile, unveiled an anti-drug strategy which would separate addicts from traders and producers.

The strategy would focus on three targets _ drugs producers based outside Thailand, dealers, and addicts.

Drastic action would be taken against producers and dealers, while addicts would be sent to rehabilitation centres.

Gen Chavalit said there were now 28 drugs factories based in Thailand's neighbouring countries.

However, a source at the Third Army said about 50 drugs plants had been set up in Burmese border areas opposite northern Thailand, plus another six in Laos in border areas facing the Northeast.

Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, former Third Army commander, said he expected a large influx of speed pills into Thailand to continue next year.


14 Dec 2002

Lean, mean machine to fight drugs

New centre to forge unity, ease command

Yuwadee Tunyasiri

In a move to centralise command and coordination among the country's diverse anti-drugs agencies, a joint command centre for suppression has been set up, to be headed by Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who will direct the nation's war on drugs.

Its creation follows His Majesty the King's birthday speech voicing his grave concern over the spread of drugs in the country.

The new centre, set up yesterday at a meeting of state agencies responsible for drug suppression, has set a target to win the war on drugs by Aug 12, 2004, said secretary-general Kitti Limchaikit of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).


28 Dec 2002

Identify drug foes, says Prem

Privy councillor calls for war on traffickers

Wassana Nanuam

Statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda has urged the defence minister and military chiefs to identify the enemies in their war on drugs in line with His Majesty the King's will.

In his birthday speech on Dec 4, His Majesty the King expressed grave concerns about drugs in Thailand.

The Privy Council chairman yesterday called on the military brass to analyse and identify their enemies before declaring war on drugs.

``It can be officially called a war on drugs,'' he said. ``In war, there must be our side and the enemies. So, we have to analyse who our enemies are.


25 Jan 2003

Dealers to face lethal govt action

Wan Nor warns: Death may await

Post reporters

Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha has issued an ultimatum to drug dealers _ quit the drug trade or prepare to face harsh state action which can be lethal.

Mr Wan Nor yesterday ordered all district chiefs to make sure drug rackets in their areas understood they had to ``give up and get out'' or they could ``get caught'' or even ``get killed''.

``Tell them to stop selling drugs and leave the communities for good or they will be put behind bars or even `vanish without a trace','' Mr Wan Nor said. ``Who cares? They are destroying our country.''

The minister also warned authorities they were endangering their future careers if they happened to spare drug traders whom they knew or became lethargic on the anti-drugs campaign.

``In our war on drugs, the district chiefs are the knights and provincial governors the commanders. If the knights see the enemies but do not shoot them, they can be beheaded by their commanders,'' Mr Wan Nor said.

His nod for authorities to take the law in their own hands when handling drug problems came right after Thursday's killings of a major drug dealer, his mistress and his aide in Nakhon Si Thammarat which locals believed were the work of the state aimed at striking fear into the hearts of drug people.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared an all-out war against drug traffickers and dealers last week. He set 9 pm on April 30 as the deadline for provincial authorities and the police to finish ridding every square inch of the country of drugs.

Mr Wan Nor said the authorities must have the lists of drug dealers and users in their districts by Feb 1.

But some senior police officers said ``catching drug dealers dead'' should be an option if social measures imposed to curb the spread of drugs failed.

Police Region 8 commander Pichai Sunthornsajjabun said more than 10,000 anti-drug volunteers backed ``a plan to shorten the lives of drug traders''.

``A normal person lives for 80 years. But a bad person should not live that long,'' Pol Lt-Gen Pichai said. Sources said the Police Region 8 had blacklisted 1,700 drug dealers in seven provinces.

National police chief Sant Sarutanond, meanwhile, said he "agreed with the tough policy on drug dealers"


1 Feb 2003

Three-month crusade launched

PM declares role as commanding general

Post reporters

The government launched its three-month crusade against drugs in grand style yesterday, with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra heading a ceremony at the Royal Plaza to declare open the campaign.

Actual suppression operations are set to kick off this morning.

Similar ceremonies also took place in the provinces.

Mr Thaksin yesterday said the government's goal to wipe out drugs from Thailand within three months was a national agenda, and he himself would be the commanding general in this war.

``We must join forces to fight this enemy of the nation.You must trust me for I will not allow the task to be halted by any influences. We must fight hard. We must win,'' he said.

Narathiwat governor Thira Rojanapornphan yesterday announced the sacking of 17 tambon and village heads and their assistants in nine districts for obstructing drug suppression.

The governor of Ubon Ratchathani said the province had a blacklist of 1,800 suspected drug dealers.

In Mae Hong Son, governor Supoj Laowansiri ordered all local hospitals to prepare to cope with a possible rise in the number of officials injured in border operations against drugs.

In Chiang Rai, Pol Maj-Gen Wut Withitanon, the provincial police chief, said 130 police officers had been trained to stage drug raids in mountainous areas using helicopters.

He admitted Doi Vavee in Chiang Rai was a major source of drugs. Almost all local leaders there were involved in the drugs trade, he said.



4 Feb 2003

The importance of the rule of law

A three-month campaign against drugs has begun. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vows it will make the country free of drug peddlers.  The deaths of four alleged drug peddlers in the campaign's opening day boded poorly for the hope that justice will be done.

Mr Wan Nor said government officials must tell drug dealers to give up or get out of their districts. Otherwise, they might ``vanish without a trace''. And, he added, who cares because drug dealers are destroying the country. He is only partly right. Drug dealers are, indeed, threatening the very fabric of Thailand. But law-abiding citizens should care if suspects vanish without trace.

Police chief Sant Sarutanond assured the public his men and women have no policy to kill drug traffickers. Yet other police officers in recent days have stressed the tough talk. Surrender or die, said one. Pichai Sunthornsajjabun, a regional police commander, said he favoured a campaign to shorten the lives of drug traders.




5 Feb 2003

Dealers will have to run forever, says PM

Police safety comes first in campaign

Yuwadee Tunyasiri and Subin Khuenkaew

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has warned traffickers on the run from the government's war on drugs to think twice about returning to Thailand.

Mr Thaksin said he was happy with the first three days of the campaign, with prominent drug dealers having been arrested while many others were being hunted down.

Any drug dealers who had fled Thailand would be arrested if they came back, he said.

``They have to run for the rest of their lives and not come back because we have details about all the important dealers.''

``Do not put the safety of drug dealers above that of police.

``If police do not shoot when they fight, they will die. Do not care about drug dealers or they will sell drugs to your children _ look out,'' the prime minister said.

The Northern Narcotics Control Centre in Chiang Mai said 100 of 300 blacklisted drug gangs in the North had fled the country.

Pitthaya Jinawat, director of the centre, said each group included a network of about 200 small-scale dealers who would be tackled by local police. He and the Mae Hong Son governor would ask the military to crack down on blacklisted drug dealers, most of whom were local leaders and politicians.

In Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, a border source said major drug dealers, including several village headmen, had gone into hiding in Burma.

Police spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Pongsaphat Pongcharoen said police yesterday arrested 1,195 drug suspects, 16 of them major drug dealers, and seized 314,535 speed pills.

In the first three days of the crackdown, which started at the weekend, police arrested 2,694 suspects, 80 of them major dealers, and seized 3.4 million methamphetamine pills.

Four suspects were killed in shootouts.