CUSTOMS officials in northeastern Nong Khai province have alerted drug agencies that some of US dollars being smuggled from Laos to Thailand, exchanged to Thai baht, and then smuggled back again could be linked to drug trafficking, Thai News Agency reported today (Oct 14, 2018).
This notification followed the arrest of 3 Laotians, 1 man and 2 women, with 38 million baht hidden in their sedan on October 11 just as they were trying to clear the customs and drive to Laos across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
Mr Nimit Saengumphai, the head of this customs checkpoint, said there are 2 more networks involved in cash smuggling but after this seizure they have halted their movements.
The cash smugglers bring US dollars to this country and then use their Thai and Laotian networks to exchange it for Thai baht, with this then taken back to Laos in the hope the spread yields a profit,
The Nong Khai customs officials have informed the Narcotics Control Board and Anti-Money Laundering Office about what is going on. While they are keeping a tight control, it is possible that some smuggled cash is getting through because as many as 45,000 vehicles pass through this checkpoint each month.
Top and below: Some of the smuggled cash found in the sedan at Nong Khai checkpoint on October 11. Photos: Thai News Agency