BANGKOK, Sept 16 – The seizure of various drugs worth RM72.5 million in Penang last Wednesday could not have been made possible without the cooperation between the Malaysian and Thai anti-narcotics police.
Both sides had exchanged vital intelligence which led to the arrest of the suspects, as well as the discovery of the sophisticated drug lab in the island state.
“At 7.50pm on Sept 4, we were asked by our Malaysian counterpart to put a surveillance on two suspects, a man and a woman, who would be travelling to Suvarnabhumi Airport from Hong Kong,” Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) head Lt Gen Sommai Kongvisaisuk told Bernamahere.
He said both suspects who were alleged to be the “brain” behind Penang’s drug seizure, had first checked in at an upscale hotel located in one of the tallest buildings in Bangkok upon arriving from Hong Kong before moving to another modest hotel in the Pratunam area within the city centre.
Ongoing surveillance on the two suspects showed both of them had then checked out from their hotel on Sept 11 and proceeded to Suvarnabhumi Airport for a flight to Hatyai in southern Thailand, said Sommai.
“They landed in Hatyai at 12.55pm,” he said adding that NSB’s operatives tracked both suspects when they travelled via land to Betong in Yala province near Thai-Malaysian border where they arrived at about 7pm.
The sleepy town of Betong sits just across the Malaysian border of Pengkalan Hulu in northern Perak.
It was unclear why the two suspects took the longer land journey to Betong after their arrival in Hatyai to enter Malaysia and not the straight forward route to the border checkpoint in Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam, which is about an hour drive from Hatyai.
“We then informed our Malaysian counterpart when the two suspects had crossed the border into Malaysia,” said Sommai.
The man and the woman were swiftly apprehended by the Malaysian police when they crossed the border, before then leading the Bukit Aman Narcotics police to the well-equipped drug lab in Bukit Tengah, Penang.
In the largest drug seizure since 1996, Malaysian police confiscated various type of drugs worth RM72.5 million, including over 2 million eramin 5 pills, more than 700kg eramin 5 powder, syabu, ecstacy and chemical substances to produce the drugs.
The police also seized drug paraphernalia worth about half a million ringgit. They also estimated the seized drugs could be used by five million people.
Bukit Aman Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) director Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh during a media conference last Friday, said two men and a woman in their 30s and 40s were nabbed in Pengkalan Hulu.
He said that they were able to cripple the syndicate thanks to cooperation with their counterparts in China and Thailand. According to Sommai, Thailand’s NSB and Office of the Narcotics Control Board (NSB) had cooperated with Bukit Aman on three occasions this year.
“The cooperation between Thailand and Malaysia to fight drugs are based on close relations because we are brothers and sisters,” he said. — Bernama