The Thai authorities are stepping up their efforts to crack down on the country’s drug networks and the ruses they use to launder their multi-million dollar business, including crypto-currency.
AFP News reported on June 26 that the recent fall of a methamphetamine syndicate – which is allegedly responsible for laundering tens of millions of dollars of drug profits through gold, oil and construction industry traffickers – has highlighted the „scale and sophistication“ of these networks.
Lieutenant General Wissanu Prasarttong-Osoth, Thailand’s Cryptosoft assistant police chief, has acknowledged that „it is impossible to guess the actual amount these drug networks are making.
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Its profits fuel a secondary economy of drug-related money laundering that encompasses crypto-money, luxury goods and overseas real estate.
Thai Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin has said authorities identified „irregular“ flows in bank accounts worth USD 5.4 billion, of which they are confident that about USD 400 million is drug money.
Methamphetamine lords in Asia have an estimated annual turnover of between US$30 billion and US$60 billion
The Thai authorities are prepared to burn the confiscated drugs, currently valued at US$1.7 billion, after recently burning a lot valued at US$800 million in Myanmar.
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Despite a number of law enforcement successes, the country has committed to improving its game and focusing its efforts on drug-related assets laundered through the banking system, crypto accounts and raw materials for the construction industry.
Across Asia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that methamphetamine lords turnover a staggering $30-60 billion each year.
Methamphetamine itself is produced in a region called the „Golden Triangle,“ which includes areas of northern Thailand, Laos, China, and Myanmar. „Sam Gor,“ a Chinese syndicate dominated by criminals, allegedly controls at least 40 per cent of the region’s methamphetamine.
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Thailand is reportedly cooperating with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency to learn from its experience in tracking the proceeds of drug laundering by cartels in Latin America.
The fight against the profits of drug trafficking „cannot stop at seizing drugs,“ said Jeremy Douglas of the UNDOC.