BANGKOK • Thailand has made one of its largest crystal methamphetamine busts, seizing 700 million baht (S$29.4 million) worth of the drug, police said yesterday, as the UN warned that South-east Asia was being flooded with illegal drugs from the "Golden Triangle" region.
Police said 700kg of the methamphetamine, destined for Malaysia, was seized on March 28 in southern Chumpon province.
The drug, known as ice, was produced in the Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet.
Two Thais and two Malaysians were arrested in connection with the bust.
The methamphetamine market has expanded at an alarming rate in East and South-east Asia.
In 2015, experts in several countries in the subregion reported an increase in the use of both crystalline methamphetamine and methamphetamine tablets.
Among amphetamines, methamphetamine represents the greatest global health threat, according to a 2017 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug report.
"These big seizures are indications that there is a relentless supply pumping out of the Golden Triangle and north Shan (in Myanmar) to flood South-east Asian markets and also transit South-east Asia to high-value markets like Australia, New Zealand and potentially further," Mr Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC's chief in South-east Asia, said.
Thai police displayed the haul yesterday at a government compound north of Bangkok. Other drugs on display added up to 890 million baht worth of illicit substances, including cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy, seized in various busts between March 25 and April 1.
Most of the drugs were produced outside of Thailand and were trafficked through the country en route to Australia, North America and Europe.
"The prices we announced are the values in Thailand," Police Lieutenant-General Sommai Kongvisaisuk, commander of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said. "Once the drugs pass through Thailand the prices will increase."
He added that disruptions to supply chains have done little to stall production. "We have intercepted a lot of drugs over the past year... but the production capacity remains untouched."