Thailand is seeking help from China and South Korea to support its efforts to crack down on the smuggling of pseudoephedrine-based cold pills. The move came after the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) obtained information that a Thai company had struck a deal to buy 10 billion pseudoephedrine-based cold tablets from a Chinese firm. Previously, the DSI obtained information that the firm also signed a deal to buy 850 million tablets, or 40 tonnes of the medicine, from South Korea. The DSI found that 87 million cold tablets were transported into Thailand from South Korea by plane on nine occasions since 2010. They had false air cargo manifests to avoid attracting attention from the authorities. The DSI suspected the medicines were smuggled in from South Korea. The DSI is investigating two companies suspected of being involved in the smuggling of the pills from overseas. The companies are UTAC Thai Co Ltd, a supplier of integrated circuits, and TVR Group Co Ltd, a car dealer and vehicle hire firm. Some information relating to the drug purchases was uncovered at the companies during recent searches of their premises but the firms denied any involvement. Mr Tarit said yesterday DSI officials also discovered a contract to buy 10 billion pseudoephedrine-based cold tablets from China during the search at UTAC Thai Co Ltd. Under the contract, the first batch of 2 million tablets was to have been shipped to Thailand on July 31, 2009. He said the DSI also found a photo showing a man collecting the pills from Suvarnabhumi airport cargo warehouse. The cold tablets from China and South Korea have the same brand name of COLCOLCO, he said. Mr Tarit said DSI officials also searched the company’s factory but there was nothing amiss. However, it was found that the company had three South Korean executives and one Thai executive, Mr Tarit said. He said the Korean Food and Drug Administration recently sent information regarding the nine shipments of pills which showed the contract to buy the cold tablets from South Korean was signed by UTAC Thai Co. Mr Tarit said the DSI’s special case committee had decided to take up the inquiry into the pseudoephedrine smuggling case. The committee had also agreed to investigate call centre scams involving criminal gangs duping people into transferring money to their accounts via ATMs. Mr Tarit said he would head the inquiry into the smuggling of the cold tablets and lead an investigation team to travel to South Korea to seek more information about the contract. Mr Tarit said shipping companies that were paid to import the pills would face prosecution for supporting the alleged smuggling of the medicine and for making false declarations, even if the tablets went through proper customs procedures before being shipped to Thailand.Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who chairs the DSI’s special case committee, said he had sought help from senior authorities in China to support Thailand’s efforts to crack down on the smuggling of cold pills and they were willing to help.
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