Police investigators question the three drug suspects detained in Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi in the early hours of Tuesday. (Photo by Saichon Srinuanjan)
Three fleeing suspects were detained in the early hours of Tuesday in Ratchaburi province after more than 300 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine were seized on a south-bound express train in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Monday evening.
Chakphat Phumphuang, 28, Wisarut Trachai, 23, Pholthawat Mala, 21, all from Tha Uthen district in the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom, were apprehended at a rented apartment room in Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi about 12.20am, Ratchaburi police said.
The arrests culminated a hunt that began several hours earlier, with police searching for them at various hotels, resorts and rented apartments.
A fourth suspect, named as Suriyan Bunthiam, 32, was still on the run.
The four fled from express train No.171 from Bangkok to Sungai Kolok when it stopped at a station in adjoining Prachuap Khiri Khan province, according to an informed source.
They were spooked after becoming aware that extra police had boared the train, the source said.
Police were looking for the fourth man. The detained suspects said he had gone his own way after they got off the train together.
The three admitted to Ratchaburi police they were hired by a man they knew only Dam for 100,000 baht to smuggle the drugs from Nakhon Phanom by bus to Bangkok, and then from Bangkok by train to Hat Yai district of Songkhla.
Police tracked the suspects down after they were seen by security cameras leaving the train and fleeing into the city.
Earlier, in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan, a combined force of local, highway and drug suppression police boarded train No.171 at the station about 6.38pm on Monday, an informed source said.
They were acting on information that a large amount of drugs were being smuggled on the southbound train.
After searching all 18 carriages for about an hour, they found five pieces of luggage and four rucksacks containing a total 250 bars of crystal meth, known as “ice”, weighing more than 300kg in total and with a combined street value of over 900 million baht, the source said.
DNA samples and fingerprints were being collected from the bags and the drug packages for matching against samples from the suspects.
The interception of the drugs was seen a major success in efforts to close down this southbound smuggling route, the source said.
Below: Police in Prachuap Khiri Khan province inspect a drug-packed suitcase seized on Monday night from an express train bound for the South. (Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem)