Drugs crackdown carries political subplot
Up to 71 villages in 17 districts in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son in the North - all political strongholds of the Puea Thai Party - are the focus of a new crackdown on drugs
, the coordination centre combating narcotics
trafficking in the North says.
"Everything is now ready," said centre director and Pa Muang task force chief Prakarn Chonlayut yesterday.
"We're gearing up for the operation to begin next week."
Maj Gen Prakarn said the army and police will join hands in the drug
-busting operation. Soldiers would stay alert near areas bordering Burma and Laos to prevent the smuggling of drugs, mainly from some Burma-based armed ethnic minority groups, into Thailand, while police will be stationed in cities and can ask for help from the military to conduct joint crackdowns in city areas.
He said Thailand and Burma have cooperated well in tackling drug trafficking along the border. This has led to many seizures of speed pills brought in from Burma.
However, he said, Thailand and Laos need to work more closely in dealing with drug issues. An intelligence report says drug traffickers from Burma have changed transportation routes. Instead of smuggling drugs directly from Burma into Thailand, they first travel to Laos and then enter Thailand.
"We're most worried about this route," Maj Gen Prakarn said. "These traffickers are devising more complicated plots."
The crackdown will carry a political impact as it could target canvassers of political parties involved in "grey businesses", according to a source.
The canvassers, who play a major role in helping politicians gain votes, will be under pressure during this operation, said the source.
He said police are keeping a close eye on drug suspects. They include those who have reportedly been in contact with local influential figures who are businessmen but also serve as political canvassers.
These people run grey businesses such as computer game shops, pubs and bars which could be venues for the illicit drug trade, the source said.
They also act as go-betweens for politicians and villagers by helping pass on residents' complaints or requests for help to politicians. The work earns them respect and gives them a significant role during an election.
The latest drugs crackdown could thus be an attempt to turn the heat up on these canvassers and a means to influence election results, said the source.
Source is :http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/loca...itical-subplot