Thailand’s claims to have seized $1.4 billion worth of ketamine in the country’s “largest ever” drug bust have turned out to be a “misunderstanding”.
Thailand's claims to have seized $1.4 billion worth of ketamine in the country's "largest ever" such drug bust have turned out to be a "misunderstanding".
The country's Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, blamed the mistake on a "testing error", saying the seized white powder was in fact trisodium phosphate - a compound commonly used in cleaning products.
Thailand made news headlines around the world when it announced 475 sacks containing 11.5 tonnes of the granular substance were seized by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board on November 12.
Initial field analysis turned the ONCB's testing fluid purple, prompting them to declare the substance ketamine and triumphantly claim it was Thailand's largest ever.
But subsequent testing of 66 of the 475 sacks revealed they in fact contained trisodium phosphate - a legal substance commonly used as a cleaning agent, lubricant, stain remover, degreaser and even a food additive.
Testing of the remaining sacks is continuing.
The ONCB was unaware that trisodium phosphate would also turn the testing fluid purple, not only a drug like ketamine, according to the justice minister.
"I accept the fact it might have been premature to hold a press conference to announce the seizure of a substance suspected to be a kind of drug," Mr Thepsuthin said, according to the Bangkok Post.
"But in this case, the ONCB had been informed of the seizure of ketamine in Taiwan, investigated and found an undeniable link to it. It would have been a mistake if I did not make it public."
Investigations into where the substance found in the Chachoengsao warehouse came from and what it was to be used for are continuing.
It is believed it may have been used to conceal illicit drugs.
The man who rented the warehouse is wanted over the seizure of ketamine in Taiwan.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/thailand-1b-dollar-ketamine-bust-misunderstanding-most-likely-just-cleaning-product/9d618fba-7c56-4818-9fc4-90909b43c4d7