BANGKOK (Bernama): A “Mandarin-speaking” syndicate was suspected to be the mastermind behind the large drug bust and discovery of a drug laboratory in Penang middle of this month, according to a Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) officer from Thailand.
The transnational syndicate believed to be comprising Mandarin-speaking members had links in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Malaysia.
“This is our initial intelligence assessment of the syndicate behind Penang’s drug bust. We monitored phone calls made by suspected members to ‘someone’ in Guangzhou in China and Hong Kong,” said NSB’s deputy head Maj Gen Thanai Apichartsenee to Bernama here, recently.
Besides eavesdropping on “communications” by suspected members, the NSB according to him, was also tracking the money trail left by them to enable authorities to identify key individuals and the mastermind behind the syndicate.
About two weeks ago, Bukit Aman’s Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) raided a factory in Penang and discovered a drug laboratory producing millions of party drugs.
The police also seized two million Erimin 5 pills, more than 700kg Erimin 5 powder, syabu, Ecstacy and other chemical substances to produce drugs as well as drug paraphernalia estimated to be worth about RM500,000.
The police claimed the seizure was the largest it made since the department’s inception 22 years ago and could supply up to five million users.
The raid in Penang was the result of a successful cooperation between NCID, NSB and China’s police.
Upon information relayed by Bukit Aman, the NSB tracked two Malaysian suspects, a man and a woman who are suspected members of the syndicate after their arrival in Suvarnabhumi Airport from Hong Kong on Sept 4.
The NSB trailed the two individuals throughout their stay in Bangkok before they took a flight to the southern town of Hatyai on Sept 11.
After arriving in Hatyai, the two highly wanted Malaysians took the longer land route to Betong and crossed over into Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, where they were subsequently picked up by the waiting Bukit Aman officer.
According to Thanai, drugs produced by the syndicate in the Penang’s lab were mainly for export to several key markets.
“One of the key markets for the syndicate is the Philippines and others could also include Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia,” he said.
Meanwhile, a highly-placed source in NSB told Bernama that syndicate members from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong had been stepping up their involvement in the “Golden Triangle”, where most of the synthetic drugs for global market were produced.
He said the syndicates had been facilitating the entry of precursors or chemicals to produce the drugs into the “Golden Triangle”, as well as supplying the highly-trained “chemist” behind the drug production.
The “Golden Triangle” is where the borders of northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. – Bernama