Mobile phones destroyed in war on drugs

June 18, 2009

A remarkable number of inmates in Thai prisons have acquired mobile phones and they aren’t using them to make friendly calls to their loved ones. Instead, they appear to be calling drug dealers to supply their lucrative business of selling drugs to fellow prisoners. With the Thai prison population increasing by between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners a month, most of them charged with drug offences, there is a very big market for their products.

Yesterday, the Corrections Department stepped up its war on drug sales in jails by destroying more than 300 mobile phones taken from inmates. In a show put on in front of reporters at Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central prison, the department also destroyed plastic bottles and other containers modified to hide the cell phones.

The phones’ SIM cards were sent for examination by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board to trace the inmates’ contacts with drug dealers, said department chief Nathee Jitsawang. Other measures being taken against the prison drug trade include installing security cameras and devices to scramble telephone signals in high security areas. Warders are also rotated between jails to prevent them getting too close to prisoners.

Mr Nathee said jail staff were becoming more aware of the methods used by visitors to smuggle mobile phones and drugs to prisoners. Some of the more novel approaches have included putting drugs inside footballs and rattan takraw balls and kicking them over the wall.

Source: Bangkok post

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