Thailand joins Asian drug crackdown
Thailand yesterday met seven other Asian countries to discuss how to prevent precursor chemicals — required for synthetic drug production — from being used to manufacture illegal drugs.
Regional co-operation is critical to effectively tackle the illicit cross-border shipments for trade and production, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday.
Gen Paiboon chaired an intergovernmental meeting yesterday to discuss measures for the regulation of precursor chemicals to prevent contraband activities.
Representatives from eight countries — Cambodia, China, India, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand — attended the conference.
Representatives exchanged information on narcotics production and trafficking, vowing to strengthen regional co-operation for a cohesive crackdown on the longstanding illegal drugs trade in Asia.
Gen Paiboon stressed the importance of drug control, saying measures to prevent trafficking can only go so far without efforts to curb production.
Thailand is a hub for regional narcotics smuggling due to its porous northern border, through which chemical caches are smuggled from Myanmar and China, Gen Paiboon said.
Myanmar authorities last year seized more than 10 million methamphetamine tablets and precursor stashes which would have produced 100-200 million pills, according to Gen Paiboon.
Permphong Chavalit, the secretary-general for the Narcotics Control Board, warned that any policy decision for precursor chemicals must be taken collaboratively, as each country has different regulations regarding the synthetic compounds.
Because many legal pharmaceuticals can be diverted into illegal drugs, a precursor chemical may be considered a non-controlled substance in one country but be banned in another, he explained.
For example, pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold medicines sold commonly throughout many parts of the world, is illegal in Thailand because it can be diverted to produce methamphetamine.
Gen Paiboon said his ministry needs to hold talks with the Food and Drug Administration and the Customs Department to learn how precursor chemicals are being used industrially, and keep a closer eye on imports.