By Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa
BANGKOK: For the RM500 they receive for each bag of ‘instant coffee and biscuit packages’ they carry, many Malaysians becoming drug mules at the Malaysia-Thailand border are not aware of what is in store for them in jail in a foreign country.
The jail term for drug offenders in Thailand is between 40 and 50 years and that’s the fate that may befall the 15 Malaysians who were arrested by Thai police in drug operations two days ago.
They were detained together with 226 kg of the synthetic drug, ‘ice’ (methamphetamine), and heroin weighing eight kilogrammes, concealed in instant coffee and biscuit packages.
“I did not know the actual contents of the bag; I just took the RM500 for each bag (containing the ‘coffee’ and ‘biscuits’) that I carried,” said one of the detained Malaysians to a local investigator yesterday.
Earlier, he and 14 other Malaysians were taken to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) Thailand to be paraded together with the seized drugs at a press conference.
Speaking to Bernama, the local investigator said it was hard for him to believe the reasons given by the Malaysians that they had no knowledge of the contents of the bags they were carrying.
“Maybe it was just an excuse but whatever the reason, they are now facing the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison,” he said.
According to him, it was most unfortunate if the reason given by the Malaysians was true.
He explained that Thailand had provision for the death penalty but it was rarely used. However, often drug offenders end up with long prison terms.
Fifteen Malaysians were nabbed at four train stations, namely the Ratchaburi, Hua Hin, Prachuabkirikan and Surat Thani train stations on Wednesday while in the Hualampong-Butterworth train.
In a follow-up operation the same day, police arrested six more Malaysians travelling in a van in Hatyai, bringing the number detained to 21. One of the six is suspected to be linked to the drug syndicate.
“The six Malaysians will be brought to Bangkok today for further investigation by Thai police,” said a local source.
Thailand Highway Police who informed Bernama about the arrest of the six Malaysians, believe that one of them is involved with the 15 Malaysians, based on his travel records.
A Malaysian source confirmed the arrest of the six Malaysians in Hatyai, and is investigating further.
However, the arrest of 21 Malaysians with such a large quantity of drugs has shocked the Thai and Malaysian police force.
Thai police have requested help from Bukit Aman to deploy personnel to Thailand to assist in the investigation.
“Two or three officers from Bukit Aman will leave for Bangkok soon to assist the Thai police, after obtaining the approval of the Chief of Police,” the source told Bernama.
The source also revealed that one of the Malaysians arrested known as ‘Ngor’ masterminded the whole operation and he was among the 15 arrested by Thai police.
Based on Thailand’s Immigration records, the 15 Malaysians arrived in the country separately either by road or by air on March 14, 15 and 16 before they boarded a flight to Chiang Mai.
The drug packages are believed to have come from the Golden Triangle area, near the border with Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, which is known as the ‘world’s drug factory’.
According to the source, four of the 15 Malaysians were found to have entered Thailand several times before, with two of them having come eight times, and two others four times.
The rest were found to have come to Thailand for the first time, the source said.
Eight of the Malaysians were found to have past criminal records.
About the true destination of the seized drugs, the source said this was being investigated but the authorities had not ruled out that Malaysia was being used as a transit country before the drugs would be sent to other countries.