Thailand sought assistance from Laos on Wednesday to track down 54 drug traffickers who fled to the neighboring country, as part of efforts to combat cross-border narcotics trade.
The discussion at the government house in Bangkok saw Thai Deputy Minister Somsak Thepsutin welcome a Lao delegation led by Major General Khamking Phuilamanyvong, Lao Deputy Minister of Public Security.’
According to Somsak, who oversees the Ministry of Justice, one of the priorities of the new Thai government is to arrest fugitives, to bolster its drug suppression effort.
While Thailand has seen some improvement in combating illegal drug activities, Somsak suggests that there is still room for improvement to make the country’s anti-drug efforts more successful. He pointed out that seizing drug-related assets would be a critical tool in this endeavor.
The Deputy Minister also hailed the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office and revenue officials for realizing the significance of seizing assets, adding that if more efforts were put in this area, the drug suppression policy would undoubtedly succeed.
“The costs of production for narcotics are very low, and if we don’t take this policy seriously, we won’t succeed,” said the minister.
“However, the government, especially the prime minister, is serious about stamping out the illegal drug trade by seizing assets.
“I’ve asked [Lao authorities] to help arrest drug suspects who have fled to Laos. There are as many as 54 arrest warrants. If these people are handed over to us, we can expand the investigation and trace and seize their assets,” he added.
Somsak noted that some online gambling sites may have ties to drug cartels, who use them to launder money.
In response to Deputy PM Somasak, Major General Khamking Phuilamanyvong said that the Lao government is keen on collaborating with Thailand to nab the production and circulation of narcotics in the region. He also met with the Thai Minister of Justice, Tawee Sodsong, who agreed to offer further support on this issue.