Prayut orders random drug searches after preschool mass killing

published :
10 Oct 2022 at 15:11

People pray at Wat Si Uthai temple following a mass shooting in the town of Uthai Sawan, Nong Bua Lam Phu province, on Monday. (Reuters photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a clampdown on drugs and a greater focus on rehabilitating addicts, after a mass killing that left 37 people dead sparked calls for tougher policies.

Gen Prayut has made drug suppression an urgent national agenda item and ordered police to proactively crack down on illicit substances to restore public confidence, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement on Monday. 

Police will conduct random drug searches, arresting offenders and bringing in users for rehabilitation. Superintendents will monitor their officers for any involvement with drugs, Mr Anucha said. Such involvement will lead to legal action. 

The prime minister’s order came after a former policeman with links to the drug trade killed 36 people in Nong Bua Lamphu province last week, before taking his own life. He had been dismissed from the police force after being arrested for illegal possession of drugs in January. 

Despite speculation that the 34-year-old had been under the influence of methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, a blood test found no trace of the drug, police said on Friday. 

Opposition parties led by Pheu Thai criticised the government’s anti-drug policies and called for tougher actions. Pheu Thai’s leader Cholnan Srikaew also said his party would devise a “war on drugs” if voted to power. 

Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile, urged the government to “speed up the suppression of drugs, especially methamphetamine tablets” following news of the killings in Nong Bua Lamphu. He led an anti-drugs campaign in the early 2000s that has been harshly criticised by human rights campaigners. 

Authorities seized assets worth 10.8 billion baht last year under the country’s narcotics law, according to Mr Anucha. They expect to seize 100 billion baht in 2023, he said. 

Thailand, the main conduit for drug trafficking along Southeast Asia’s vast Mekong River valley, is also working with neighbours Myanmar and Laos to arrest more offenders, Mr Anucha added. 

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