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July 24, 2017

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Thailand to fight youth drug addiction

BANGKOK -- Thailand will employ a proactive strategy in tackling drugs, the secretary of the National Narcotic Prevention and Supression Commission, Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen, said.

The offensive will take place throughout the kingdom, starting with 12 communities in Klong Toei slum, and will involve monitoring those who have been treated after they were found to have drug addiction, he said.

Pongsapat, who is also a deputy chief of the National Police, said in the weekly television program "PM Yingluck meets the people" that over the past year many big-time drug dealers had been arrested. But he was still concerned about drug addiction and trafficking in communities in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.

This, he said, had led to the designation of various communities in order to better tackle the problem and many youths have given tips to the authorities while some of those affected in communities were yet to receive proper care that should include post-addiction livelihood training.

Pongsapat cited Klong Toei slum as the most drug-prone, especially in areas called Lock 1-3 and Lock 4-5 over a 70-rai area and occupied by some 7,000 to 8,000 people.

Some 3,000 youths were thought to be at risk, said Pongsapat, and the authorities had surrounded the communities to "x-ray every inch over a 90-day period," which began on Oct. 1. That includes police patrols, installing CCTV cameras and officers at all the 18 entrance and exits. This, he said, had led to many arrests so far.

Another measure is to campaign in the community that those addicted are like sick people and since October 14, 106 people, including parents and youths, had voluntarily sought drug treatment. These people were being sent to various treatment centers and it would take from 45 to 120 days for the rehabilitation process to conclude.

The Education Ministry has also been asked to help look after children who have no access to education in the areas. Deputy Premier Chalerm Yoobamrung has been appointed as director of Palang Paendin (Power of the Land) Centre that seeks to win the "war on drugs."

Throughout the country, 878 districts will deploy a strategy similar to what is being used in a Klong Toei slum, including crackdowns on drug transport and trafficking. Three areas in Bangkok will be particularly targeted along with nine provinces.

More than 400,000 people have been rehabilitated so far and the government is trying to introduce a one-stop service center.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck went to a Klong Toei slum yesterday to inaugurate the Baan Unjai Project (Reassuring Home Project), coinciding with the crackdown on drugs in the area.

Yesterday morning, two drug users were arrested in the area for possessing "ice."

Dusit Poll, meanwhile, revealed that a majority of respondents supported Priephan Damapong as deputy premier to tackle the drugs issue.

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