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Mekong Region’s Most Wanted: Thailand’s Groundbreaking Move in Drug Trafficking Battle – Oh, the Secrets This College Holds!

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In the enchanting region of Chiang Rai, Thailand, the International Narcotics Control College (INCC) emerges as a beacon of hope in the battle against drug trafficking. Sharing the lush, historical compound with Thailand’s opium museum, the Hall of Opium, in Chiang Saen district, the INCC is poised to establish itself as a pivotal centre of specialised training for law enforcement agencies and related bodies in the Mekong area.

Birthed from a strategic partnership between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Thailand’s Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the INCC stands as the first institution of its nature in the Mekong region. The UNODC’s representative in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, lauds the establishment as an excellent asset for the ONCB and partner organisations, offering a fresh perspective in responding to drug trafficking.

“The INCC will house courses on drug intelligence and analysis, border management, precursor chemical control, alongside drug policy and demand reduction,” Jeremy remarked. The synergy between the INCC and the ONCB’s Safe Mekong Coordination Center (SMCC), located in Chiang Saen, fosters a dynamic infrastructure enabling the relentless monitoring of drug trafficking across the Mekong countries and the notorious Golden Triangle.

No stranger to drug trafficking, the Golden Triangle, comprising Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, grapples with its reputation as a significant source of opium in Southeast Asia. Douglas assures that the supportive arm of the UNODC will augment the SMCC’s ongoing tasks such as drug analysis while supplying advanced intelligence software and knowledge infusion.

According to Secretary-General of ONCB, Wichai Chaimongkhon, it was the generous contribution of land by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, administrator of the Hall of Opium, that fostered the inception of the INCC. Inspired by the foundation’s gesture, the ONCB decided to pioneer an institution committed to combating drugs in the Mekong subregion. Envisioned as a comprehensive learning and research platform, the INCC will concentrate on the principles of investigation, prevention, and suppression of drug trafficking, morphing learners into vigilant protectors of their region.

Immersed in a lush forest near the Mekong River, the college aims to provide stimulating, hands-on experience in land and water drug trafficking interventions. Armed by the ONCB’s Drug Prevention and Suppression Fund, which houses funds confiscated from drug dealers by the court, and foreign sponsorship from Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand, the INCC is financially sound.

Wichai reiterates that the initial launch is merely a stepping-stone in the INCC’s growth journey. Though several facility components, such as the shooting gallery, seminar room, and drug research centre, are still under construction, expectations are high that the college will reach full operational capacity in the coming year. “In this modern era, drug crimes are increasingly complex and technologically advanced. Our aim is to enhance crime-solving capabilities across the Mekong region, thereby equipping us to address the rampant drug crime more effectively,” added Wichai.

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