Tonne of ganja seized as pickup driver flees

Pol Col Apichart Phochan, commander of Highways Police Region 4, at a media conference to announce the seizure of about a tonne of ganja in Khon Kaen. (Photo by Jakkrapan Nathanri)

KHON KAEN: Highway police seized about a tonne of marijuana from a pickup truck after the driver abandoned it during a pursuit and fled in Nam Phong district in the early hours of Monday.

Police impounded the truck, 1,095 kilogrammes of ganja, a mobile phone with an SIM card registered in Laos, and a bag of clothes.

Pol Col Apichart Phochan, commander of Highway Police Region 4, said police at a regular checkpoint had first stopped a pickup truck with a driver and passenger and found nothing suspicious, so the vehicle was allowed to continue its journey.

However, they noticed the vehicle had then stopped about 200 metres down the road and an occupant appeared to be using a mobile phone. Police immediately suspected the driver and passenger had been scouting the route.

A police patrol vehicle was sent to check the route before the checkpoint. About 10 kilometres down the road a pickup was seen suddenly reversing out of a petrol station parking area.

They tried  to stop the vehicle for an inspection, but it accelerated away towards Udon Thani with the police in pursuit. Unable to shake off the pursuit, the driver abandoned the truck and fled into the night on foot.

A search of the truck found 25 black plastic bags containing well-packaged, compressed marijuana.

Pol Col Apichart said the vehicle’s licence plates proved to be false and did not match up with the chassis number. Some electricity bills and payment receipts found in the vehicle would allow for further  investigation.

The drug shipment was thought to have been smuggled from Vietnam through Laos and into Thailand via Nong Khai. 

The marijuana was worth over 20 million baht, he said, and was probably intended for distribution in the   general Bangkok area.

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