Four accused of smuggling tonnes of cannabis oil to Europe

Police display seized cannabis oil allegedly produced at a warehouse in Samut Prakan by a gang that smuggled the drug to Belgium, at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Two foreigners and two Thais have been arrested on charges of making tonnes of cannabis oil in two warehouses in Samut Prakan and smuggling it to Europe.

The arrested foreigners were identified as 67-year-old UK national Joseph Toole and 65-year-old Canadian Kulik David. The Thai suspects are Suriyan Suwanchairob, 34, and Supakit Kaeoma, 54.

Deputy national police chief Chalermkiat Sriworakhan told a news conference on Thursday that police were informed of the illicit business in March.The smugglers hid the cannabis in compressed coconut peat, or coir, and exported it to Belgium. A shipment was intercepted in Antwerp.

Investigators found out the gang hid cannabis, cannabis oil and production equipment at two warehouses,  in tambon Bang Phli Yai and tambon Racha Thewa in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan province.

Police raided the warehouses on Monday and seized 70.22 kilogrammes of cannabis oil in 57 bottles, 6.6kg of cannabis paste and chemicals. Mr Suriyan was arrested in Sakon Nakhon province, Mr Supakit in Bangkok, and the two foreigners in Pattaya.

Pol Gen Chalermkiat said the Canadian was suspected of being one of the financiers of the illicit business and the Briton directed production. The gang has  allegedly been producing the oil in Bang Phli for over a year, and to have smuggled five tonnes of cannabis oil to Belgium.

He also said police believed the gang included a Japanese financier.

Mr Suriyan was allegedly responsible for guarding drugs and equipment and Mr Supakit ran a shipping firm which allegedly handled the smuggling side of the operation. 

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