More than 250 million methamphetamine pills have been seized since early in the second half of last year — double the amount of this illegal narcotic intercepted during the corresponding period one year earlier.
The growing trade is mainly attributed to the heavy smuggling of illicit drugs from neighbouring countries, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.
He was responding to a question about the government’s plan to stamp out narcotic abuse in Thailand, which was put to him during a recent parliamentary meeting by Sophon Saram, a Bhumjaithai Party MP for Buri Ram.
Mr Sophon said narcotics are now widely available for abuse by students and children across the nation. Many addictive substances have hit the streets where they are easy to find at cheap prices, from e-cigarettes to the so-called “4×100” drug cocktail of kratom tea, cough syrup, Coca-Cola, and ice cubes, he added.
“Despite the efforts to suppress drug syndicates, the price of meth pills has not come down,” said Mr Srettha, suggesting the supply remains constant and the crackdowns are either not working or more of the drugs are being produced to make up for the shortfall.
Since the latter half of 2023, 40% more small-scale drug dealers have been arrested compared to the year-earlier period, amounting to about 32,000 cases, the prime minister said. The number of confiscated meth pills has more than doubled to over 250 million, he noted.
The surge in the number of arrested drug dealers and confiscated meth pills is understood to refer to the period from last September to this week.
Mr Srettha said drug-related assets worth 2.5 billion baht have been frozen during this period.
“The root of the problem originates from the economic problems people have been enduring. The government is aware of this, and it has a clear policy to eradicate them,” he said.
Regarding the 4×100 drug cocktail, Mr Srettha said its popularity spreading across the country. He said provincial police chiefs have been told to try and eradicate it with immediate effect.
“At present, a lot of drugs are being smuggled across the border. The 3rd Army Area chief has done his duty well to catch the smugglers,” said Mr Srettha.
The premier said he plans to meet the public health minister to discuss drug rehabilitation measures.
Customs Department spokesman Phantong Loykulnanta said the department has found dealers tend to send large parcels filled with narcotics overseas via courier services.