Thai forager who found $8 million yaba pill stash 'gave them away' to pals

A Thai man who found yaba pills worth US$6 million (S$8.28 million) in the jungle decided to hand them out to his friends.
A Thai man who found yaba pills worth US$6 million (S$8.28 million) in the jungle decided to hand them out to his friends.PHOTO: ST FILE

BANGKOK (AFP) - A Thai man who says he found 700,000 methamphetamine pills - with a street value of nearly US$6 million (S$8.28 million) - in a bush, drove the local price of the drug down after handing them out to his friends for free, police said Wednesday (May 25).

Prachaub Kanpecth, who normally collects rubbish and forest honey, was charged Tuesday with possession and intent to supply after police caught him with 500,000 meth tablets, known as yaba or "crazy drug", at his home in central Ayutthaya province.

The 41-year-old told officers he found the tablets after watching a group of men in a pick-up truck leave a large package in some shrubbery along the road, district police said.

Police opened an investigation after a glut of tablets flooded the local market - going for an unusually cheap US$3. Yaba pills normally cost around US$8 each.

But by the time he was arrested on Tuesday, Prahuab had already given away 200,000 tablets, said police, who are still investigating the case.

"He claimed he has been giving (the pills) to his friends who needed money or who wanted to money to pay back debts," Suriya Yoopeat, a police commander in Uthai district, told AFP.

"As of now we don't have any other evidence or witnesses to contradict his testimony," the officer said.

Seizures of meth have surged across the Asia-Pacific region in recent years.

Much of the regional drug manufacturing takes place in the Golden Triangle, a remote border region where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.