Thailand incinerates over $600 million worth of narcotics

Thai law enforcement agencies took the torch to over $600 million worth of narcotics seized from drug traffickers during the past year, incinerating a stunning menu of drugs during ceremonies to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking last week

The burning of amphetamines, marijuana, heroin, kratom, crystal methamphetamine, opium, cocaine and other drugs took place at a public ceremony at the Bang Pa-in industrial estate in Ayutthaya province and was attended by government officials and senior law enforcement officers. Government officials pledged even stronger efforts and international cooperation in the battle against drugs.

“The drugs were seized from 6,546 raids and arrests across Thailand,” said a statement from the Ministry of Public Health. The ministry said the largest batch of drugs destroyed was 87 million methamphetamine pills, known locally as “ya ba’ or crazy medicine because of its effects upon addicts.

The variety of drugs seized and incinerated was evidence of the global growth of the narcotics trafficking industry. Drugs such as cocaine were rarely found in Thailand in earlier times, but are more commonplace now as narcotics syndicates extend their tentacles around the globe.

Thailand was once among the leading producers of heroin and opium, but now produces only very small quantities of those drugs. Success in suppressing opium and heroin was largely the result of crop substitution and income generating programs initiated by the late monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Although Afghanistan is now the world’s largest producer of opium and heroin, significant amounts of those drugs are still found in Thailand’s region because the Kingdom is part of the “Golden Triangle” where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. Ethnic insurgent armies in neighboring countries once produced most of the world’s supply of opium and heroin to fund their rebellions against central governments.

In recent decades, however, they have switched to become major amphetamine producers. Thailand has suffered as a result, with the pills flooding the Kingdom. While some drugs are produced in Thailand, the country is mainly a marketplace and transit country for narcotics smugglers.

In 2015, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China formed the “Safe Mekong Coordination Center” to combat the drug trade in the Golden Triangle. Thailand’s neighbors, Myanmar and Cambodia, also held similar events today to mark the international day, and in total roughly $1 billion worth of narcotics were destroyed. Thailand destroyed the largest amount, however, a testament to the dedication of its law enforcement agencies that have been increasing seizures and arresting more traffickers.