An inmate drug gang in Nakhon Si Thammarat prison has linked up with counterparts in Bangkok to create the country's biggest drug network, the provincial police chief said.
Police conduct another search at the NakhonSiThammarat prison yesterday. They found more than 10 mobile phones in cells while at least 100 inmates had traces of narcotics in their urine. NUCHAREE RAKRUN
Nakhon Si Thammarat police chief Pol Maj Gen Ronapong Saikaew said inmates at his jail are working with gangs in Bang Khwang Central Prison in Bangkok.
He said a move to clamp down on the gang was compromised when details of a raid at Nakhon Si Thammarat prison were leaked a few hours before the operation began on Sunday.
Officers still found 284 mobile phones, 1,700 methamphetamine pills, or ya ba, and 50g of crystal meth, or ya ice, in prison cells. In a second raid yesterday more than 10 phones were seized and at least 100 inmates tested positive for drugs. Pol Maj Gen Ronapong said information gathered from the mobiles clearly pointed to links between drug networks in Nakhon Si Thammarat prison and Bang Khwang.
"Together they have formed Thailand's biggest drug network, which is linked to traffickers and producers in Laos and Myanmar," he said.
"They are not afraid of arrest, they work from prison."
Pol Maj Gen Ronapong said he was frustrated that some inmates had been told in advance of the planned raid.
Authorities would otherwise have seized much more, he said, because they had received a tip-off that 1kg of ya ice was delivered to the prison three days before the raid.
Pol Maj Gen Ronapong said officers were tracing drug traffickers from information found on the seized mobile phones. He added that at least 10 officials at Nakhon Si Thammarat prison were thought to be involved in the drug business and police are hunting down the official who leaked the raid.
Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said yesterday that Sunday's raid was the beginning of efforts to suppress the drug trade in prisons.
He said the campaign would expand to jails nationwide and corrupt prison staff would face harsh penalties. The Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will investigate prison staff involved in illicit businesses at prisons, including the drug trade. PACC secretary-general Pol Col Dusadee Arayawuth added that the agency is investigating three officials in Rattanaburi prison in Surin province for allegedly selling narcotics to inmates.