BANGKOK : Thai police seized 1.1 tons of crystal methamphetamine in less than a week, officers said Tuesday. The kingdom is cracking down on smuggled smuggles that have surged since the country's borders were reopened.
The haul comes after a spike in the clashes between police and smugglers in the kingdom's remote northern hinterlands, long a hub for the trade in illegal narcotics.
The police arrested 10 Thai nationals in a series of raids in the north and south of the kingdom after a tip-off.
Some of the drugs were kept for a period before being transported to the southernmost provinces, and were later to be shipped to other countries, said Chinnapat Sarasin, Deputy National Police Chief.
He said Thailand was surrounded by drugs manufacturing hotspots but that the COVID-19 epidemic had prevented smugglers from moving their wares.
Now that the country has been opened, the pent-up products are just being shipped in non-stop, he said.
The police said a transnational drug gang was behind the illegal trade.
In the first operation, officers found 731 kg of crystal meth, also known as street name ice, in two raids in the southern Thai provinces of Phatthalung and Surat Thani.
Three men were arrested on Thursday after they discovered 688 kg of crystal meth in three pick-up trucks, which they believe were smuggled into Thailand's northeast before being transported south.
Four more people were arrested after police found 43 kg of the drug, which was being sold via the popular Thai messaging app LINE.
On Sunday another man was arrested in the northern Chiang Rai province as he prepared to transport around 300 kg of ice hidden in tea bags south to Satun.
After the drugs were found hidden in coffee bag packages, around 114 kg were confiscated in central Nakhon Sawan and Patum Thani provinces. Two men were arrested.
Southeast Asia is riddled with meth, and authorities netted a record billion pills in the Asian region in 2021, according to a report from the United Nations.