PM pledges to eradicate 80% of drugs within one year

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BANGKOK, Sept 11 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday launched an anti-narcotics operation as a national agenda with the aim to eradicate 80 per cent of drug use and drug trafficking within one year.

Ms Yingluck inaugurated the national agenda operation Sunday morning. The event was also attended by Interior Minister Yongyuth Vichaidit, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and representatives from other concerned agencies.

The premier said the current drug situation is more severe than in 2007 when some 400,000 people were arrested on drug-related charges. In 2011 narcotics reportedly spread to 80,000 villages across the country and the number of persons involved with drugs has reached 1.3 million.

The government will suppress drug trafficking and use aiming to reduce the problem by 80 per cent within a year under the seven plans such as law enforcement, international cooperation, interception of drug traffickers along the borders and strengthening local community power to fight against drugs, according to the prime minister.

Ms Yingluck said that four aspects which will be improved are the intelligence work, the role of concerned officials, law and regulations and the attitude of the local community towards drugs.

The premier has appointed Deputy Premier Chalerm to head the centre for the administration of anti-narcotics operations.

Mr Chalerm on Sunday said the government’s target to eliminate drugs in one year does not mean that drug problems will be totally eradicated but that the operations will reduce risks to the wider community and reduce the number of drug addicts.

The deputy premier stated the government also needs cooperation from the army to help prevent drugs trafficking along the borders, at the same time, lay out measures to bar substrates and trade on drugs.

The operations will be based on mercy, the rule of law and area-centred problem-solving, he said.

The launching of the anti-narcotics operations came only a few days after a military border task force seized an unusually large number of illicit drugs including 3.4 kilogrammes of heroin and 95 kg of crystal methamphetamine, worth some US$33 million.

The drugs were believed to be smuggled from neighbour Myanmar. The eastern part of the neighbouring country is home to ethnic minorities, some of whom are believed to be major heroin and methamphetamine traffickers.