Police yesterday arrested six people, including two minors, for trading illegal drugs via popular webcam-based chat service Camfrog.
This is the first known instance in Thailand of drugs being dealt using an Internet chat service.
Bangkok police chief Lt-General Worapong Chiewpreecha said the technology made police narcotics-suppression efforts more difficult and that the availability of drugs among teenagers through popular and familiar chat services made the problem more worrying.
"This is a new method of drug-running," Worapong said.
The adult suspects are Krissana Imruethaijaroenchoke, 31, Nattachai Winijso, 36, Kanjana Taengsopha, 25, and Adul Baramee, 25. The two unidentified minors are males aged 15 and 16. Police said all six confessed to charges of drug trading and possession with intent to sell.
Found in the suspects' possession were 30 amphetamine tablets, two ecstasy pills, 35 grams of the drug called ice and 0.9 gram of ketamine powder.
Police said the suspects opened a chat room using Camfrog's service and gave it an attractive name. They spread information about the drug service to chatters by word of mouth, and new chatters would be given passwords to enter the room each time a deal was to be made.
New chatters were asked to use the drugs on camera to prove they were not police snitches. It was also an effective way to prevent chatters from stopping their use of drugs or talking to the police, because with their faces recorded, they feared for their lives.
Pol Major Worrasak Phisitbannakorn, who led the arrests, said one of the suspects had been cooperating with the police for a while and had implicated the other five. Police are tracking other drug traders also suspected of using the Camfrog service to facilitate their business.
He said investigating other groups of Camfrog drug traders might prove more difficult once these first arrests made the news. He said police would need help from Information and Communications Technology Ministry officials in tracking other dealers and their ever-changing virtual locations.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court yesterday upheld lower-court decisions sentencing four drug dealers to death and another one to 25 years in prison for their crime six years ago.
The judges said they saw no reason to grant leniency to the four suspects, who possessed 16 kilograms of heroin and 60,000 amphetamine tablets with intent to sell. They are Buaphan Maneephed, On Wangwong, Thong Phromjan and a woman identified merely as Nee.
The 25-year sentence handed to Saengnaree Oonniphon by the Court of Appeals has been upheld.