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Pattaya Daily News

12 September 2010 :: 10:09:45 am 38328

Fifty Tonne Safrole Burn-off a First for Thai Narcotics Police

A planned burn-off of approximately 50-tonnes of ‘safrole’, also known as sassafras oil, will be the first consignment of the restricted liquid to be destroyed by Thai authorities, according to Justice Minister Peerapan Saleeratwipak.
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Bangkok, the 10th of September 2010: The safrole, considered a major precursor ingredient to the formulation of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, better known as MDMA or Ecstasy, was found at the eastern Thai port of Lamb Chabang in 2007.

The burn-off of the illegal substance, classified a category-1 precursor by the US, EU and UN, will be the first of its kind in Thailand when it is carried out at the Bangpoo Industrial Estate in Samut Prakan on Monday. The burning will take place with various Narcotics Control Board (NCB), Thai Customs Department and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) officials present.

Thailand’s Justice Minister Peerapan Saleeratwipak explained that the substance was seized in October 2007 at the Lamb Chabang Port in Chon-Buri. Customer discovered three liquid storage containers containing the liquid, which was labelled for export into China and the United States.

Court proceedings relating to the substance concluded in February 2010, with a panel of judges ruling that the liquid must be seized and processed according to public health regulations. Thai regulations stipulate the burning of illicit substances with the use of a ‘co-current’ rotary kiln or furnace, which is reportedly pollution free and environmentally friendly.

According to investigative reports, the ‘safrole’ was produced in Cambodia before being illegally exported into Thailand with the intention of being re-routed to China and the U.S. The oil is thought to have been extracted from the nation’s abundance of sassafras plants, although other sources also produce the naturally occurring substance.

The safrole trade is not uncommon in Cambodia, with reports suggesting that the substance has been trafficked in excess through Vietnam since the 60’s before producers shifted their movements into Thailand more recently. Vietnam has since banned the production of safrole although the importation and export of the substance remains relatively unrestricted.

In Thailand, it is illegal to import/export, possess or produce the oil unless authorised by the FDA. Illegal possession of the substance may result in imprisonment of 1-10 years and/or a Bt20,000-200,000 fine, while possession of mass quantities (over 10 kilograms) is grounds for 1-15 years imprisonment and/or a Bt100,000-1.5 million fine.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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