A life-size statue of Optimus Prime and other Transformers characters were packed with massive amounts of ketamine, Thai police say. Police in Bangkok, Thailand intercepted about 705 pounds of ketamine hidden inside Transformers statues, marking one of the country’s biggest busts in recent years. The estimated market value is as high as NT$600 million (about $20 million USD).

Channel News Asia (CNA) first reported that the ketamine was found on April 25. A woman allegedly tried to smuggle the ketamine inside life-size statues of the Transformers characters Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Greenlight and others. The statues were enroute to a movie exhibition in Taiwan. Transformers is the popular movie series directed by Michael Bay, based on the toy franchise. Drug traffickers typically seek out the least likely places to hide drugs in order to evade police, sometimes getting creative such as in the case of the Thailand bust.

Fox News reports that Thai police in Bangkok seized 320 kilograms (705 pounds) of ketamine in a freight warehouse. The suspect allegedly packed 320 kilograms of ketamine into 320 packages containing one kilo each. The ketamine was then allegedly concealed with an outer package filled with Tieguanyin tea to deter police, and stuffed into 10 bases of the model robots. Each base was stuffed with 32 packs of ketamine.

An unidentified woman allegedly paid around $4,800 USD to the shipping company to help her transport the statues. Authorities said she had received instructions from another unidentified woman in Laos who would receive the shipment of drugs. 

Phanurat Lukboon, secretary-general of Thailand’s Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), held a press conference today to explain the case.

“Currently, we are facing a drug trafficking problem with transnational crime networks hidden in all regions, using Thailand as a base to smuggle drugs to third countries continuously through international shipments via air or sea,” Police Lt. Gen. Phanurat Lhakbun said.

Police in Australia found around 220 pounds of methamphetamine that an unidentified woman tried to smuggle inside a food processing machine on March 12. With this in mind, they kept an eye on her activities in the following weeks, which led to the discovery of an even bigger stash of drugs.

“The ONCB has cooperation projects with the Airport Interdiction Task Force to suppress and intercept drugs in airports and the Seaport Interdiction Task Force for intercepting drug imports to the inner part of the country and exports to third countries,” Phanurat said. 

Thai police cooperated with the Bureau of Investigation and held a meeting in Bangkok on April 24 and found the ketamine the next day.

According to Thai police, the woman allegedly transferred the drugs via Laos and the drugs originated from Cambodia. Thai police are still determining its original source. The Bureau of Investigation is also continuing to investigate alleged Taiwanese accomplices.

Thai police and the Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice cooperated to intercept a batch of ketamine destined for Taiwan and held a press conference on April 26.

Drugs in Thailand

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, typically  have harsh drug laws. Thailand’s strict laws include the use of the death penalty. However in recent years, Thailand experimented with cannabis reform. Thailand’s lenient approach to cannabis is currently being revised as the country’s prime minister is seeking to re-criminalize the plant.

In 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize cannabis for medical use. Two years later, the Thai cabinet approved amendments to the country’s drug laws to allow for the production and sale of medical marijuana, including cannabis flower. 

Thailand removed cannabis from the nation’s list of banned drugs on June 9, 2022, making the country the first Asian nation to decriminalize pot. Government officials warned, however, that the move does not legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.

Under Thailand’s new regulations, marijuana and hemp cultivation and commerce are no longer illegal. Restaurants and cafes will be permitted to sell foods and beverages infused with cannabis, but only if they contain no more than 0.2% THC. Products with higher concentrations of THC are permitted for medicinal purposes.

Pills containing meth, followed by crystal meth, are the most popular drugs in Thailand. The country’s most popular pill, Yaba, is a combination of caffeine and methamphetamine, mainly manufactured in Burma. Thai police have intercepted more than four tons of crystal meth, two tons of ketamine, and over 580 pounds of heroin in total busts in recent months. 

In Thailand, ketamine is considered a Category II drug—drugs that are illegal for personal use. This is the same category as drugs such as codeine. In the U.S. ketamine is approved for medical use and classified as a Schedule III drug. In the U.S. ketamine is used for psychedelic-assisted therapy.

The post Over 700 Pounds of Ketamine Found in Transformer Statues first appeared on High Times.

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