Thai junta targets drug users to tackle trafficking

Anti-drug campaign cracks down on consumers, dealers to lower demand amid limited cross-border cooperation against production.

Thai junta targets drug users to tackle trafficking

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Thai junta and police have launched a major anti-drug campaign targeting drug consumers and small dealers in capital Bangkok in a bid to fight trafficking by lowering demand, given the slow progress of cross-border cooperation to eliminate productions sites.

Police general Ittiphon Piriyapinyo, the Bangkok deputy-chief coordinating the campaign, told the Anadolu Agency this week, “It is difficult to attack directly the production side which is located in neighboring countries, that is why we decided to lower the quantity of drug consumed by drug addicts in Thailand.”

The operation was launched at dawn on Tuesday when police teams intervened in various communities across Bangkok, looking for drug consumers and small dealers.

“We have asked the people in different communities: in which house are teenagers taking drugs?” said Piriyapinyo, explaining that they went to known teenager hangouts and did urine tests to determine who was intoxicated.

Tuesday’s operations led to the arrests of 83 drugs users, who were sent to rehabilitation centers located in military camps - some voluntarily, some against their will.

A total of 22 small dealers, implicated by drug users, were also arrested.

Other interventions are planned for next week, with the operation expected to initially run until 900 drug users are sent to rehabilitation centers.

The campaign will also continue to monitor those treated after they leave the detoxification centers.

“One of the problems is that when they go back to their environment, to their friends, they are incited to take drugs again,” said Piriyapinyo, explaining that monitoring would therefore last between six months and two years.

While recognizing that supply reduction is part of any country’s drug control strategy, together with the reduction of demand and harm, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bangkok underlined the importance of consumers’ decisions in terms of rehabilitation.

“It is important to emphasize that the access to services for drug users must be voluntary to efficiently address drug dependence and its harmful consequences,” Olivier Lermet, regional HIV advisor at UNODC's Southeast Asia and the Pacific office, told AA.

Since the 2000s, methamphetamines have replaced heroin as the most common drugs consumed in Thailand.

Production sites are mostly across the border in Myanmar.

The drug, locally called “Ya Ba” or “the drug which makes you crazy,” was initially taken by workers and truck drivers to keep them working long hours, but its use expanded considerably in the 2000s – until it could even be found at primary school playgrounds.

Thai police are regularly seizing large quantities of methamphetamines – sometimes up to several hundreds of thousands of pills - but the problem remains, partly due to the persistent demand.

Last Mod: 12 Eylül 2014, 15:24
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