Thailand seizes 176kg of crystal meth in Japan-bound treadmills

Drugs stashed in exercise equipment led authorities to a warehouse with more ready-to-be smuggled narcotics.

    The Asia-Pacific methamphetamine trade was worth as much as $61.4bn in 2018 [Jorge Silva/Reuters]
    The Asia-Pacific methamphetamine trade was worth as much as $61.4bn in 2018 [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

    Thai anti-narcotics officers have seized 176 kilogrammes (388 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine hidden in the metal frames of electric treadmills bound for Japan.

    "Last month, the Australian police busted a similar case with the drugs hidden in exercise equipment, which they told us was packaged and exported from Thailand," said Police Major-General Yingyot Thepchamnong, head of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, on Thursday.

    "So, we followed up in the belief there must be other cases."

    He said officers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday discovered 36kgs (80 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine stashed in exercise equipment among air cargo bound for Japan, enabling them to track the shipment back to the warehouse.

    During the raid on the warehouse, police found a further 140kgs (308 pounds) inside the frames of 10 treadmills.

    One person was arrested following the raid, though Yingyot said police believe more suspects were involved.

    Thailand is a major trafficking route for crystal methamphetamine manufactured in Myanmar's Shan and Kachin states. The methamphetamine market has expanded at an alarming rate as drug seizures have surged more than tenfold over the past two years, official statistics show.

    The United Nations estimates that the Asia-Pacific methamphetamine trade alone was worth as much as $61.4bn in 2018, up from an estimated $15bn just five years earlier

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency