BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand said they have seized more than a ton of crystal meth and over 10 million methamphetamine tablets in a series of drug raids this month, amid increased production and use of the drugs in Southeast Asia.
Thai authorities often make several large seizures a year of methamphetamine and other drugs, usually arresting low-level traffickers and drivers.
Police said in statements Sunday and Monday that they arrested eight people for trafficking over 5 million methamphetamine pills, 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds) of crystal meth, 15.4 kilograms (34 pounds) of heroin and 51 kilograms (112 pounds) of ketamine. The drugs were discovered Friday in a pickup truck hidden under fruit baskets and at a trafficker's home.
Police said they seized 459 kilograms (1,012 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine last week that they suspect originated from neighboring Myanmar. The drugs were found in the back of a pickup truck covered under a large green canvas.
In Chiang Mai province, 563 kilometers (350 miles) north of Bangkok, police said a firefight between officers and drug traffickers broke out last Wednesday night while officers were tracking the traffickers in a forest.
Police said they found the dead body of one drug trafficker Thursday lying next to a pistol, in a case in which they seized around 5 million methamphetamine tablets, around 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of crystal meth and 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of ketamine, as well as a pistol and a cellphone.
In a separate case also last Wednesday, police arrested six people for trafficking drugs to southern Thailand. Police said they seized 58 kilograms (129 pounds) of crystal meth that was found hidden in a secret compartment traffickers had made to store the drugs in a pickup truck.
Police also seized 898,000 methamphetamine tablets on July 1 at a pickup truck that traffickers had abandoned.
Australian police said in June that they seized a record 1.8 tons of methamphetamine at the Melbourne waterfront that was hidden in stereo speakers shipped from Bangkok.
The U.N.'s anti-drug agency said in March that production of methamphetamine is skyrocketing in Southeast Asia, with prices dropping and usage expanding.