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Bangkok Post(21/5/99)

<center><bold>Five arrested in Takon speed pill charge Raid ahead of
joint suppression talks

</bold></center>Supamart Kasem

Four Karen people and a Thai have been charged with the possession of
equipment to make speed pills and 104 fake 500-baht notes.

Jor sae Song, 35, Tong sae Song, 32, Seng sae Song, 23, and Wanthong sae
Lee, 37, and Sombat Watkaew were also charged with possessing two
unlicensed shotguns and ammunition.

The four were arrested in a raid on the Phop Pha district home of Mr Jor
on Tuesday ahead of a scheduled meeting of a Thai-Burmese narcotics
suppression group in Mae Sot today.

Governor Huekharn Tomornsak of Tak leads the Thai delegation while the
Burmese team is led by Lt-Col Min Naing, chairman of the provincial peace
and development council of Myawaddy.

Narcotics suppression co-operation, especially on the exchange of
information on the trade of narcotics along the border will be discussed
at the meeting.

A source said major sources of narcotics are in Burma's northeastern
region opposite Thailand's upper North. In the past, drugs were smuggled
into Thailand through this part of the country.

After the establishment of the Northern Narcotics Suppression Operation
Centre, headed by Third Army commander Lt-Gen Sommai Vichavorn late last
year, the smuggling route has been switched to areas in the lower 

Pol Col Suthira Punnabutr, the Mae Sot police chief, said drugs were
smuggled to hilltribe villages in Muang and Phop Phra districts before
being distributed to other provinces including Bangkok.

In December last year, Thai authorities in Mae Sot arrested a number of
policemen and former Red Wa soldiers who were taking 250,000 amphetamine
pills across the Moei river from Myawaddy, he said.


<center><bold>Checkpoints a drawcard for gamblers House panel looks into
crime concerns


Temsak Traisophon and Supawadee Susanpoolthong

Border crossings into Laos, Cambodia and Burma are being reviewed after
complaints that the main function of many of them is to facilitate the
movement of gamblers to Thai-owned casinos across the frontier.

An order issued yesterday by Interior Permanent Secretary Chanasak
Yuwaboon requires all checkpoints to report on whether most travellers
are gamblers or people on genuine business.

The move came as a House subcommittee visited a crossing in Chiang Rai to
check out fears its main function was to facilitate gambling, smuggling
and other crime.

Niran Kalayanamit, director of the Foreign Affairs Division, said the
border passes facilitate cross-border visits and international trade.
Closing them could have repercussions.

The matter would be raised at the National Security Council.

There are three permanent border crossings into Burma: Mae Sai in Chiang
Rai, Mae Sot in Tak and Muang district of Ranong.

There are 12 temporary border passes in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong
Son, Kanchanaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Opposite Kiew Pha Wok pass in Chiang Mai's Chiang Dao district is Mong
Hsat, where a group of Thai businessmen led by Maj-Gen Intrarat
Yodbangtoey, a supreme command officer, has obtained a concession to
operate a quarry, a source said.

At Tachilek, opposite Mae Sai district, Pol Lt-Col Adul Boonset, a former
New Aspiration Party MP for Phichit, is a co-investor in a casino, which
has yet to open, intended to attract Thai gamblers.

Vicharn Chaiyanan, the Chiang Rai governor, originally proposed the
opening of the border pass to Tachilek, arguing it was necessary for
trade and tourism.

Another border pass into Burma which is currently controversial is at Ban
Sop Ruak in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai.

A group of businessmen led by Prasit Pothasuthon, an elder brother of
Prapat Pothasuthon , a deputy interior minister and member of the Chart
Thai Party, has invested in a project in Burma called the Golden Triangle
and Paradise Resort, which includes a casino.

This group is pushing for the border pass at Sop Ruak to be made

Critics fear it could become a source of narcotics, contraband and

This concern prompted the House Local Administration Committee to form a
subcommittee to travel to Ban Sop Ruak for an inspection.

The committee yesterday considered the request to make the border pass

Governor Vicharn, the president of the provincial administration
organisation, the Chiang Saen district chief and the kamnan of tambon
Wiang were interviewed.

Mr Vicharn strongly supported opening a permanent checkpoint to
facilitate border trade and immigration.

In the seven months since the pass unofficially opened, about 19 million
baht had flowed into Chiang Rai, he said.

Pol Gen Charn Rattanatham, the committee's adviser, said Thais use a
border pass in Trat province to visit a casino in Cambodia, draining
about five billion baht out of the country annually.The pass was used
very little for trade.