Thai police seize $60 million worth of meth from convoy in Bangkok

Thai national police chief general Chaktip Chaijinda (second from right) watches police department chemists inspect seized drugs during a press conference in Bangkok, on May 11, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
A police officer inspects seized drugs and guns during a press conference in Bangkok, on May 11, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Ten million made-in-Myanmar "yaba" pills and nearly half a tonne of crystal meth hidden in tea packages have been pulled from a convoy of cars in Bangkok, Thai police said Friday (May 11).

The drugs - worth around US$45 million (S$60.2 million) on the local market - were being ferried along Thailand's "narcotics corridor", which cuts through the central Thai province of Ayutthaya to Bangkok and then south to Malaysia.

Police followed the four cars from Ayutthaya, which is a key warehousing site for the drugs which pour from Myanmar's meth labs.

They made the bust once the convoy had reached downtown Bangkok late Thursday, police said, uncovering crytal meth concealed in Chinese-branded tea packages and the pill bundles.

"Six Thai suspects who were paid to transport drugs were arrested," national police chief General Chaktip Chaijinda told reporters, adding some of the drugs were "destined for foreign countries".

"They belong to the northern Wa group," he said, of an ethnic group based in Myanmar's Shan State which jointly oversees the world's second largest drug producing region.

Yaba - which means "crazy medicine" in Thai - are methamphetamine pills cut with caffeine and are consumed across Asia, popped by everyone from the party crowd to farmers and lorry drivers.

The notorious "Golden Triangle" - an ungovernable border zone that crosses Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China - is experiencing a boom in drug production.

Massive oversupply from Myanmar has seen the price of a yaba tablet plummet to 100 baht (S$4.20) in Thailand.

The much more potent and addictive crystal meth version - "ice" - is also cascading across the region.

One kilogram goes for around US$30,000 in Thailand, but the price rises the further it is transported from the source in Myanmar.

Drugs are trafficked south to Malaysia and beyond, while record seizures are also being made along a westwards route from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

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