Drugged Out – Thailand’s Drug Scourge

Drugged Out – Thailand’s Drug Scourge – Time, May 31, 2011
[Thanks to Mud for pointing this out.]
…But what should be a proud moment for Thai and American antinarcotics officials is freighted with embarrassment. Four suspects — two men, two women, all handcuffed — are also paraded. They had been arrested the day before in Fang, near the border with Burma, along with Preeda Trakulpreeda, 41, who the authorities say is a major Thai heroin trader. But Preeda somehow escaped while in the custody of six or seven armed police. “It doesn’t look good,” admits a sheepish Colonel Narat Sawettana, DSI deputy director-general, who is investigating the escape.
Compounding matters, corrupt officials often give big-time traffickers tip-offs about police or military raids, says a former DEA agent with many years of experience in Thailand who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Realistically, if you intercept 1 in 20 or 30 loads coming into Thailand, you’re doing O.K., because of the corruption factor,” he says. “Also, look at the seizures: some are enormous by American standards. But who goes to jail? Usually some mope that’s hired to take a truck from point A to point B. Even if the big guys are arrested — which is extremely rare — they never go to jail. Never.” And the suspects paraded at press conferences like this one today? “Nothing but transporters,” says the ex-DEA man. “They’re what we used to call roadkill…”

Thailand’s Drug Scourge: Photographs

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