A NAVY SEAL unit together with some army officers raided a medium-size fishing boat not far from Koh Samet, Rayong province, and seized 909 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) just as the vessel was heading to transfer the drug to a large ocean liner believed to then take it to Australia, TV Channel 7 said today (June 1).
Announcing the big drug seizure in which six suspects were arrested were Mr. Wichai Chaimongkol, secretary-general of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Mr. Prin Mekanan, ONCB director, VAdm. Sittichai Tangjai, navy chief of staff, and RAdm. Thinkorn Kanchanatemee, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command (SEAL).
This raided was mounted after ONCB was tipped off that medium-size fishing boats were transferring big lots of drugs, up to one tonne (1,000 kg), to large ocean liners in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.
Prin was assigned to coordinate with a SEAL unit in investigating this drug smuggling route.
After four months of investigation on Tuesday (May 30) a spy team spotted suspicious activity with some empty stainless steel tanks, oil and food being loaded onto a medium-size fishing boat for a certain mission.
This boat was watched and after 24 hours a pick-up truck came and several white sacks were taken aboard and then it set sail.
The SEAL unit raided the vessel 20 nautical miles (37.04 km) south of Koh Samet and arrested the six suspects after seizing the 909 kg of Ice.
The team expanded investigation to five locations in Rayong and two in Bangkok whereby aside from the fishing boat, six cars, two motorcycles, some bank accounts and ATM cards and other assets totalling 19 items were seized altogether worth over 5.2 million baht.
They also raided a rented out in Rayong where empty sacks that had contained Ice and new ones in which the drug was to be packed were found.
The suspects said the drug was transported from Bangkok to their fishing boat in Rayong with a bag of ketamine sent for their personal use.
The fishing boat owner said that the big lot of Ice was to be transferred to an ocean liner in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand with the authorities certain it was heading for Australia.
The fishing boat that was raided and the suspects being arrested. Photos: Thai Rath