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Thai police officers seize meth hidden in Easter Island statue

#Thai #police #officers #seize #meth #hidden #Easter #Island #statue

Thai authorities have seized 200 kilograms of crystal meth hidden in a replica Easter Island statue awaiting shipment to Taiwan, police said on Thursday.

The so-called Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia – the notorious border region between Myanmar, Laos and Thailand – has long been a notorious hotspot for drug production and trafficking.

Thai drug officers working with Taiwanese police raided a shipping company in the port city of Laem Chabang, about 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Bangkok, to examine six statue heads made of cement and metal frames.

Officers used an angle grinder, hammers and chisels to carve a hole in a statue, revealing the drugs hidden in plastic bags, according to footage shown by local media.

Khemmarin Hassiri, commander of the Royal Thai Police’s foreign affairs branch, told AFP news agency that the drugs were to be shipped to Taiwan.

The statues were originally transported to the kingdom from Taiwan for an exhibition in late 2020.

Police have requested arrest warrants for Thai and Taiwanese drug suspects linked to the statues.

Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the loot was “no surprise”.

“Trade links between syndicates active in the Mekong, including Thailand, and Taiwan are longstanding and strong,” Douglas told AFP.

“Taiwan is a target market for meth and ketamine in particular, but also a hub for Japan and other parts of East Asia.”

The seizure comes after a UN report released last month said a record one billion methamphetamine pills were seized in East and Southeast Asia last year.

According to the report, 79 tons of crystal methamphetamine were seized across the region during the same period.

Myanmar’s northern Shan State remains the main source of meth in the region.

Experts say methamphetamine production has reached unprecedented levels and was exacerbated by the coup in Myanmar last February that crippled the economy and livelihoods.

Myanmar’s lawlessness provides ideal conditions for illicit drug labs to thrive as a largely uncontrolled flow of precursor chemicals flows in from China.

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