Two suspects were detained after raids in New Taipei City late last month led to the seizure of 76 bricks of heroin, based on surveillance by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) of a Thailand-based smuggling ring, Criminal Investigation Bureau officials announced yesterday.
Raids of sites in Wugu District (五股) led to the confiscation of 29kg of heroin with an estimated street value of NT$150 million (US$4.86 million) and NT$2.42 million in cash, said Chen Tso-lin (陳佐霖), deputy chief of a squad at the bureau’s Drug Enforcement Center, at a news conference at the CGA’s headquarters in Taipei.
One of the suspects is a 56-year-old Taiwanese man, surnamed Kao (高), whose import-export business in Thailand had fallen on hard times, while the second is a 38-year-old Thai national known as Sreenak, who entered Taiwan on a tourist visa in October last year, Chen said.
Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
Kao’s company was heavily in debt and a local drug syndicate, interested in establishing more contacts in Taiwan, had reportedly recruited him with the promise of a big payday upon a successful smuggling run, Chen said.
The coast guard conducted a background check on Sreenak and found that he was in the Thai armed forces and had allegedly been working for a drug syndicate in the Golden Triangle region, Chen added.
“Although Sreenak is in the Thai military, he had been placed on an Interpol watch list due to his association with a drug syndicate,” Chen said.
“We believe that he was sent to Taiwan after raids last year led to the arrests of several people, to monitor the delivery end of the smuggling operation,” Chen added.
Drug Enforcement Center officers discovered that a shipment of drugs was scheduled to be smuggled into Taiwan last month on a container ship from Thailand, in packages labeled as coconut juice, Chen said.
After the shipment arrived, CGA personnel tracked the suspects to an apartment in Wugu District and then tailed them as they allegedly delivered drugs on scooters to buyers in the city, he said.
Lab results showed that the confiscated heroin originated in the Golden Triangle and was of a high purity, he said.
The bust showed that a smuggling route from Southeast Asia was now being supervised by high-ranking members of a Thai drug syndicate, Chen added.
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