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Prayut orders random drug searches after preschool mass killing

Prayut orders random drug searches after preschool mass killing

Workers prepare for funeral cremation of victims of mass killing that left 37 dead.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a clampdown on drugs and a greater focus on rehabilitating addicts, after a mass killing that left 37 people dead sparked calls for tougher policies.

Gen Prayut has made drug suppression an urgent national agenda item and ordered police to proactively crack down on illicit substances to restore public confidence, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement on Monday.

Police will conduct random drug searches, arresting offenders and bringing in users for rehabilitation. Superintendents will monitor their officers for any involvement with drugs, Mr Anucha said. Such involvement will lead to legal action.

The prime minister’s order came after a former policeman with links to the drug trade killed 36 people in Nong Bua Lamphu province last week, before taking his own life. He had been dismissed from the police force after being arrested for illegal possession of drugs in January.

Despite speculation that the 34-year-old had been under the influence of methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, a blood test found no trace of the drug, police said on Friday.

Opposition parties led by Pheu Thai criticised the government’s anti-drug policies and called for tougher actions. Pheu Thai’s leader Cholnan Srikaew also said his party would devise a “war on drugs” if voted to power.

Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile, urged the government to “speed up the suppression of drugs, especially methamphetamine tablets” following news of the killings in Nong Bua Lamphu. He led an anti-drugs campaign in the early 2000s that has been harshly criticised by human rights campaigners.

Authorities seized assets worth 10.8 billion baht last year under the country’s narcotics law, according to Mr Anucha. They expect to seize 100 billion baht in 2023, he said.

Thailand, the main conduit for drug trafficking along Southeast Asia’s vast Mekong River valley, is also working with neighbours Myanmar and Laos to arrest more offenders, Mr Anucha added.

Thai PM orders tighter gun control, drugs crackdown after mass killing

Army personnel work on the funeral pyre preparations for the cremation ceremony of the victims of a mass shooting in the town of Uthai Sawan

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday ordered law enforcement agencies to tighten gun ownership rules and crack down on drug use following a mass killing by an ex-policeman at a daycare centre that left has the nation in shock.

A total of 36 people including 24 children were killed in a knife and gun rampage last week by an ex-cop who later killed himself in Uthai Sawan, a town 500 km (310 miles) northeast of Bangkok. It was one of the worst child death tolls in a massacre by a single killer in recent history.

Prayuth has instructed authorities to proactively search and test for the use of illicit drugs among officials and communities, and step up treatment for addicts, government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement.

The prime minister has ordered government registrars to revoke the gun licenses of registered owners who have reportedly behaved in a way that “threatens society” and “creates chaos or causes unrest”, Anucha said, alongside a crackdown on illegal gun sales, weapons smuggling, and the use of illegal firearms.

Thai authorities plan to recall guns from officials and police officers who have misused their firearms or have behaved aggressively on duty.

Regular mental health checks will also be required for gun license applicants and holder, Police Chief Police General Damrongsak Kittprapas told reporters.

Gun ownership is high in Thailand compared with some other countries in Southeast Asia. Illegal weapons, many brought in from strife-torn countries, are common.

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