Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report
Date: 19 December 2017
Monitoring Period: 00:00, 09 DEC 2017 to 23:59hrs 17 DEC 2017 (GMT+8)
The flood situation in Southern Thailand has continued to cause considerable amount of damage in the South despite what appears to be a POSSIBLE hindrance to drug traffickers and insurgents these floods appear to be causing. Based on the weather forecasts, the floods in the South will PROBABLY continue, resulting in further damage and casualties.
The numerous trafficking incidents across Thailand this week along with the Royal Thai Police’s prediction that trafficking will continue for the upcoming major holidays make it PROBABLE that trafficking incidents will increase. Over the next few weeks, there will POSSIBLY be further firefights up in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai along with more shipments coming into Thailand via Nakhon Phanom as traffickers will be eager to fill the depleted supplies.
As shown in the imagery above, Bangkok and the South continue to be the areas of highest activity by a large margin but the majority of incidents consist of only two types of incidents from the status quo for this week; ‘Criminality’ and ‘Other.’ Most incidents of ‘Criminality’ this week revolve around the usual activities of drug trafficking but also feature incidents of criminal activity which are known to be occurring in Thailand but have been difficult to identify in open source methods – sex offences, human trafficking and illegal logging. ‘Other’ types of incidents largely continue to revolve around court cases, weather warnings and reporting focussing on the government; this week however has seen a greater variety of ‘Other’ incidents but the majority remain concentrated in Bangkok.
In terms of incidents per day, December continues to look like it will be similar to May or August 2017; making November’s level of activity appear to be a spike as opposed to the beginning of rising levels of activity throughout Thailand (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017b).
This week has seen a slight increase in incidents in the North region and they consist of the usual types of incidents in this part of Thailand; incidents of Criminality which are predominantly drug trafficking incidents in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai as these provinces in Thailand continue to be entry points for drug shipments from Laos and Myanmar. As for level of activity in this part of Thailand, December is beginning to see this part of Thailand turn out to be at similar levels seen in May and August 2017 (Pratten, 2017b).
2. 10 DEC 2017: Five Traffickers Killed, Yaba Seized by Pha Mueang Taskforce in Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Rai
Officers from the Pha Mueang Taskforce killed five drug traffickers in a clash near the Thai-Myanmar border. The patrol was driven by a tip-off that drugs would be smuggled into Thailand through Mae Fa Luang district. The Taskforce was deployed to the area where and came across a group of about 20 armed men transporting a shipment. The firefight broke out when patrol ordered the group to stop for a search; lasting about 10 minutes. Five of the 20 men were killed during the clash.
Afterwards, the officers found 19 bags left in the area which turned out to be contain a total of 2.9 million yaba pills. Examination of the seized yaba revealed they were branded with ‘999;’ believed to be produced by a Lt Col Yi Se located near the border in Myanmar.
COMMENT. This incident is to the East of last week’s clash but to the West of prior clashes along the Thai-Myanmar border pictured below. The willingness by traffickers to engage in firefights in order to withdraw back to Myanmar is nota new development but it appears that drug traffickers based in Myanmar are utilising the terrain around Mae Fa Luang and Mae Ai districts rather than via the border crossing point near Mae Sai, Chiang Rai/Tachilek, Myanmar (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017a, Pratten, 2017b). COMMENT ENDS.
3. SUMMARY: The North East has is so far turning out to be similar to August and could finish similar to June 2017. Activities in this part of Thailand appear to be concentrated near the borders with Laos and Cambodia and have once again featured incidents of trafficking and arrests at the Nong Khai border checkpoint.
4. 10 DEC 2017: Marijuana Seized in Tha Uthen District, Nakhon Phanom
A Navy patrol seized 610kg of compressed marijuana slabs being delivered by smugglers using a tributary of the Mekong River in Tha Uthen district; the Songkhram River at Ban Chaiyaburi. The suspects fled when the patrol turned up, leaving behind 15 sacks containing the marijuana. The price in Thailand would be about Bt20,000 (US$615.00) per kilogram for a total value of around Bt12 million (US$369000.00).
COMMENT. This area of the North-East reporting region is becoming the most frequently used entry point for marijuana traffickers coming into Thailand from Laos. Past incidents – pictured below – have shown that quantities of marijuana shipments have ranged from 430kg up to 1 tonne (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
5. 11 DEC 2017: Two Lao Nationals Arrested with Bt98 Million in Mueang District, Nong Khai
Customs officials discovered more than Bt98 million (US$3013500.00) in Thai banknotes in a car that was trying to cross the border into Laos. The two Lao nationals that were arrested claimed their family had a currency exchange business. Thai law prohibits the transportation of amounts exceeding Bt450,000 across borders without notifying relevant officials.
COMMENT. Nong Khai has been a frequently used location for trafficking in/out of Thailand. This is the first incident logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform which features Thai currency being transported out of Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.
The Central reporting region has again been an area of little activity in Thailand since the floods dissipated just over a month ago. This week has seen the investigation into a Thai couple discovered to have filmed and streamed online them sexually abusing their three-year old son in exchange for money. Both parents have been arrested and the investigation has located the administrator of the online forum which disseminated the video along with other instances of the same act. In addition, there has been an incident in Ang Thong where a home invasion unravelled after the homeowner – a village headwoman – was able to untie herself, draw a concealed firearm and shoot the home invaders. The low number of incidents in this area for December thus far points to the Central reporting region becoming an area of low activity for Thailand.
7. NOTHING TO REPORT
Bangkok has seen the most activity this week. Due to the population size, dense urban terrain and the country’s centre of power, incidents continue to revolve around crime and political developments focussing on when the strict controls surrounding political activities will be relaxed as well as preparations for the election expected to be held late next year. While many areas of Thailand appear to be having lower levels of activity, Bangkok’s level of activity appears to be on par with June, August and September.
9. 13 DEC 2017: Two Arrested with Large Quantities of Yaba and Ice in Mueang District, Nonthaburi
Two men were arrested with 5.4 million yaba pills and 120kg of 'ice' believed to be from Myanmar at a house in Tambon Bang Krang, Mueang district, Nonthaburi. The two suspects identified as Pornthep Meenak and Ek were allegedly major drug dealers supplying narcotics to customers in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Police believe the drugs came from the Wa area in Myanmar and one of the suspects had been jailed for narcotic possession in 2012.
COMMENT. This appears to be the third major arrest of leading drug traffickers and large seizure of yaba and ice in Bangkok. However, this location appears to be outside of Bangkok itself; near the outskirts of Bangkok in neighbouring provinces; a similarity with the seizures in Samut Prakan province in October and November (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
10. 14 DEC 2017: Former UDD Leader's Sentences Halved by Supreme Court in Bangkok
The Supreme Court has halved two prison terms given to United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) – or Red-Shirts – leader Jatuporn Prompan for accusing former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of ordering soldiers to kill protesters during UDD demonstrations on Oct 11 and 17 in 2009. The Supreme Court halved the jail term to six months on each count as Jatuporn confessed during the Supreme Court hearing to making the speeches.
COMMENT. Despite the halving of his sentence, Jatuporn will be free in December 2018. Based on the expected election in November 2018, Jatuporn will be released after the election is expected to be held; denying the UDD an experienced leader during the elections at this point in time. COMMENT ENDS.
11. 15 DEC 2017: Activists Call for No-Confidence Debate Against NCPO In Bangkok
Anti-junta activists staged a protest to call upon the parliament to convene a no-confidence debate, saying the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has consistently mismanaged the country and oppressed its citizens since seizing power three years ago. Campaigner Sirawith Seritiwat a.k.a. "Ja New," said he will petition the National Legislative Assembly on Dec. 22 to launch the motion. He stated his demand in front of several dozens of his supporters on BTS National Stadium skywalk, a rare protest under the regime that has banned all forms of public dissent. Although police were deployed, no arrests were made.
COMMENT. There has not been a debate of no-confidence since the military seized power in May 2014. One fifth of lawmakers in the parliament can ask the House Speaker to launch a no-confidence debate against the Prime Minister and their government. While no arrests were made by police for this protest – currently an offence under the interim constitution in Thailand – the government has later summoned activists for questioning at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok. COMMENT ENDS.
This week has seen the emergence of Crime related incidents outside of Pattaya in Bang Lamung district. So far, this part of Thailand is showing similar levels of activity in May, July and October 2017.
13. 12 DEC 2017: Cambodian Nationals Arrested for Illegal Logging in Thap Lan National Park
Three Cambodian nationals were detained for questioning on suspicion of illegal logging after being photographed by camera traps in Thap Lan National Park. Forest rangers detained the men after they were alerted to possible illegal activity by camera traps in the forest, part of the Network Centric Anti-Poaching System (NCAPS).
The photos showed a group of men carrying backpacks and what looked like wood-cutting tools. There were at least 30 men when they tracked them down but most managed to flee during the arrest. Three were captured along with wood-cutting tools and a supply of dried food.
According to forestry officials, the suspects said there were 40 of them who were persuaded by Thai job brokers to do a logging job in Khon Buri district. The men snuck across the natural border through Sa Kaeo province last weekend, taken to Nakhon Ratchasima and taken by boat across a reservoir to access Thap Lan. They were arrested before getting to work.
COMMENT. Thap Lan National Park has been a recent focus for illegal loggers with several arrests beginning in October 2017. Prior incidents indicate that authorities have only been able to capture three at a time when they locate them. Illegal logging incidents in other parts of Thailand have indicated this type of crime originates from Thailand’s neighbouring countries as their own supplies of Siamese Rosewood have been depleted but the demand for this wood is in high demand for furniture in China (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
The Southern reporting region has turned out to be the second most active part of Thailand with Bangkok having only a slight lead in number of incidents for December so far. The floods which have been occurring in this region have been continuing this week, with Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Director General reporting the flood situation in six southern provinces remains critical. The affected areas include the Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, Phattalung, Trang, Satun, Chumpon, Narathiwat, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Krabi provinces. In all, 502,158 families were affected and 29 victims died. While these floods have caused a large amount of damage, they appear to have kept activities by insurgents at bay for the time being. In addition, these floods appear to have slowed the activities of drug trafficking networks in this part of Thailand; with several arrests and seizures occurring.
Despite the lack of activity by insurgents, an emergency situation management meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has resulted in the extension of the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations for another three months to deal with unrest in southern border provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani provinces.
Efforts by ISOC continue across the South to provide assistance and pump water out of flooded areas. At this stage, there has not been any calls for international assistance but many areas remain declared as disaster areas. Damage assessments provided by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Management indicate that 805,000 people from 101 districts of 10 southern provinces have been affected.
15. 11 DEC 2017: Combined Operations in Trang Province Seize Drugs, Weapons and Arrest Two Dealers
Drugs and weapons worth about Bt20 million (US$615,000.00) were seized and 52 suspects, including two major drug dealers were arrested in a week-long police crackdown in Trang province. The confiscated items included 22,493 yaba pills, 3kg of ice, 7.9kg of kratom leaves, marijuana, two pistols with 64 bullets and a Honda car. Of the suspects, Noppadon Samapong, 32, and Veerapong Deerat, 51, both of Kantang district, were alleged major drug dealers.
16. 14 DEC 2017: Combined Operations in Trang Province Seize Drugs, Weapons and Arrest Two Dealers
Authorities have frozen Bt101 million (US$3105750.00) in assets of eight arrested suspects believed to be part of a major ring supplying drugs to southern tourist destinations. The case began with the arrest of Prajak Thaichana and Kachornyot Tanawanitnam at a ferry pier in Don Sak district. Police seized 1.1kg of ice from the pair who were heading for the tourist island of Koh Samui. Pol Maj Gen Apichart said the two men told officers that a man named “Seri” ordered them to take delivery of the drugs from Warakorn Heet-aksorn, 32, in Phunphin district. Follow up arrests of their associates resulted in 12.5kg of ice, 360,000 yaba pills and 40 M16 bullets being seized.
COMMENT. Reporting surrounding the above trafficking incidents along with the several incidents in other provinces indicate the Royal Thai Police have arrested several drug trafficking gangs in the capital and the provinces during the past three weeks; seizing over 26 million yaba pills and ice worth over Bt4 billion. According to the police, drug trafficking will be intensified during the upcoming New Year festivals prompting an order for police nationwide to step up operations (Thai PBS, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
WEATHER EFFECTS – NEXT 7 DAYS (Thai Meteorological Department, 2014)
While the Overall Rating for stability in Thailand has decreased, the lowering of the rating can be attributed to the decreased number of incidents. The flood situation in Southern Thailand has continued to cause considerable amount of damage in the South despite what appears to be a POSSIBLE hindrance to drug traffickers and insurgents these floods appear to be causing. Based on the weather forecasts, the floods in the South will PROBABLY continue, resulting in further damage and casualties.
The numerous trafficking incidents across Thailand this week along with the Royal Thai Police’s prediction that trafficking will continue for the upcoming major holidays make it PROBABLE that trafficking incidents will PROBABLY increase. The several arrests and seizures across the country indicate that the supplies and leadership of trafficking networks within Thailand currently have a vacuum which will PROBABLY be filled quickly. Over the next few weeks, there will POSSIBLY be further firefights up in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai along with more shipments coming into Thailand via Nakhon Phanom as traffickers will be eager to fill the depleted supplies.
With regards to the protest in Bangkok, it is PROBABLE that next week the NCPO will issue summons to those who participated in the protest to meet with authorities at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok, this will POTENTIALLY keep further protests from occurring with little to no media attention. As for Jatuporn Prompan, the reduction in his sentence will POTENTIALLY mean little for the UDD as he will POSSIBY still be imprisoned if the election occurs as expected in 2018.
The arrest of the three Cambodian loggers will POSSIBLY provide follow up leads for the large number of illegal loggers who have been escaping authorities. However, the demand for the wood in forests like Thap Lan National Park will not reduce incidents of illegal logging in the immediate future.
In conclusion, it is POSSIBLE that next week and onwards will begin to see an increase in drug trafficking incidents. With the assessed continuation of floods in the South, the number of incidents from next week will POSSIBLY increase with the severity remaining the same, leading to a POSSIBLE increase in the Overall Rating to remain between Medium to High.
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. Durham: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 17 December 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017a. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Crime Analysis in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/07/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Crime-Analysis-in-Thailand [Accessed 13 December 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017b. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report - 14 December 2017. Thailand [Online], 14 December 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/12/14/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 17 December 2017].
THAI METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT. 2014. Weather Forecast [Online]. Bangkok: Thai Meteorological Department,. Available: https://www.tmd.go.th/en/thailand.php [Accessed 17 December 2017].
THAI PBS. 2017. Huge Caches of Drugs Worth Over 4 Billion Baht Seized in Past Three Weeks [Online]. Bangkok: Thai PBS. Available: http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/huge-caches-drugs-worth-4-billion-baht-seized-past-three-weeks/ [Accessed 17 December 2017].
NB – For the sake of efficiency and to avoid potential misunderstandings, references mentioning myself or the Intelligence Fusion platform are built upon the collection and logging of incidents based on the combination of numerous open sources such as mainstream media, social media and open source mapping tools.