Drug route shifts from Thailand to Vietnam: minister

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin claims illicit drugs traffickers have shifted their delivery routes from Thailand to Vietnam. (Bangkok Post photo)

Traffickers are now transporting drugs through Vietnam instead of Thailand, through which it has become more difficult to deliver drugs to third countries, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said on Sunday.

Mr Somsak said he and his entourage will leave for Vietnam for a ministerial-level meeting on Sept 9-10 about the transnational drug trade. The meeting will be attended by delegates from countries in the Mekong river basin — including Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and China — the Philippines, the United States Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Australian Federal Police, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The meeting will discuss drug prevention and suppression and transnational drug transport as drug traders have shifted their routes away from Thailand, where deliveries have become increasingly difficult, to Vietnam. As a result, Vietnam needs more cooperation from Thailand, other countries and related agencies for both suppression and remedial actions, he said.

Mr Somsak said Thailand and other countries in the Mekong river basin have stepped up cooperation against drugs, forcing the drug traders to look for alternative delivery routes. He did not mention the origin of the drugs.

Statistics show that Thai authorities have arrested more drug traders and users and seized larger quatities of drugs, he added.