Four nations in Asia joined forces in a pilot project with the idea to share intelligence and plan more effective strategies to counter drug smuggling. The target is known as the Golden Triangle, a region infamous for the trade. CCTV’s Tony Cheng reported the story from Bangkok.
The Kok River, one of the tributaries of the Mekong, has harboured smugglers for decades, evading capture and control by skipping across the banks of the river in the lawless area known as the Golden Triangle
\'Golden Triangle\' serves as major drug supplier into China, Southeast AsiaFour nations in Asia joined forces in a pilot project with the idea to share intelligence and plan more effective strategies to counter drug smuggling. The target is known as the Golden Triangle, a region infamous for the trade. CCTV's Tony Cheng reported the story from Bangkok.
“The golden triangle remains an enormous supplier of drugs into this region into China and Southeast Asia,” Jeremy Douglas, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said.
On October 5, 2011, 13 Chinese sailors were brutally murdered after smugglers seized their boats to transport methamphetamine. In response to public outrage, the four nations that border the area, Myanmar, Laos, China and Thailand, pledged to co-operate and crackdown on the drug traffickers.
Four years later, the result is the Safe Mekong Co-ordination center in Chiang Mai. Representatives of the four countries share intelligence on the known movement of narcotics in the region.
It’s a rare example of law enforcement agencies co-operating with each other in a way they’ve rarely done in the past. Leading the briefing were two senior members of Thailand’s office of Narcotics control, who told CCTV America why controlling the river is key to stopping the supply.
“As we have cracked down on traffickers using routes on land to smuggle drugs, they have started using the river more, and that is why we started this project,” Wichai Chaimongkol, Director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board’s (ONCB) 5th Region said.
Patrols have also been stepped up on the Mekong itself. Although each nation remains in control of their own territory, the increase in co-operation could yield major results.
“This is a great opportunity for the narcotics control board to share information with the security forces and get better results,” Commander Nanthapol Naksuvahn of the Thai Navy’s Mekong Taskforce.
The navy is employing new tactics, specific to the territorial complexities of the area.
The Thai security forces’ ship is heavily armed in case it encounters armed smugglers. This is the sort of patrol they said is much easier now that there is co-operation between the four countries. Thailand’s larger ship is being supported by a smaller one that is able to nip across between the two banks of the Mekong.
“The economy of the golden triangle has been a drug economy of decades and it will take a long period of time and a very large integrated plan of action involving international assistance providers, the countries themselves and their neighbors to ensure that that area has the alternate economy to replace that decades long economy,” Douglas said.
Even so, regional cooperation remains a a vital step.
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