The largest ever supply of ketamine in Thailand has been uncovered by the seizure of stain remover by red-faced officials.
The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) claim that the police seized a shipment of ketamine worth more than £ 700 million has turned out to be mistaken.
Wichai Chaimongkhol, ONCB’s secretary general, told reporters after the “drug lift” that the shipment was “the largest amount ever seized in Thailand.”
Police estimated the street value of the “illegal drugs” at 28.7 billion baht – just over £ 710 million.
But now, red-faced police chiefs have admitted that the “ketamine” now appears to be trisodium phosphate – a perfectly legal chemical that is an effective stain remover and sometimes used as a lubricant, food additive, stain remover and degreaser.
The chemical is listed on food packaging as E339 and is often used to prevent clumping or excessive acidity in processed foods.
But it is usually shipped in white powder form, which in this case has led to a “technical error” by the Thai police.
More than eleven 11.5 tons of the powder was seized from a Thai warehouse following a tip from Taiwan.
At a triumphant press conference, Chaimongkhol said it was the largest amount of illegal drugs ever seized in Thailand. But now Thailand’s Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin says it “may have been premature to hold a press conference” before thorough laboratory testing was completed.
Also in the presence of trisodium phosphate, a field test for ketamine can give a false positive result, and this appears to have happened in this case.
“This was a misunderstanding that our agency must accept,” Mr. Somsak told reporters, adding that there was a “technical error in the field”.
Mr. Chaimongkol has emphasized that there are still 415 bags that have not yet been tested and that there may be ketamine in the packaging.
He said, “ However, it is currently not possible to confirm whether the amount of ketamine will be detected after the completion of the investigation as all bags could be used to disguise and mislead officials into smuggling ketamine that may already be Taiwan has been smuggled. , as their authorities had warned us in September. “