War on Drugs

Brickbat: Cleaning Up Thailand


Thai officials announced in November the largest ketamine bust in the nation's history, some 11.5 tons of the anesthetic. They now say they were wrong. The white powder was all actually trisodium phosphate, a cleaning agent. Officials blame a field test that inaccurately indicated the powder was a drug. A government spokesman says it "might have been premature to hold a press conference" touting the bust before doing full lab tests on the powder.

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  1. So the powder being in boxes marked TIDE (tm) didn't tip them off?

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  2. It’s easy to write about Thai beaches, as pictures alone can say a thousand words. Powdery soft, immaculately white sand fronted by an azure-blue sea and backed with a thick line of palm and coconut trees, they truly are paradise on Earth. Or, at least, they were. Today, a stroll on their most popular beaches is greeted not with the customary crunch of the coral and the sand, but often instead with a mood-killing game of dodge the plastic.

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  3. Maybe they can try using it to clean the egg off their faces.

  4. But when tested again later in a proper laboratory by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), at least 66 sacks were confirmed to be the cleaning agent...

    I can picture them testing them all with increasingly desperate urgency. But I'm sure drug enforcement has now learned their lesson to use caution and restraint in their rush to justify their existence.

    1. Now that there's funny.

  5. Good for them for admitting they screwed up. I’d half expect them to just plow ahead with prosecution, insisting the tests show what they originally suspected. Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I have a hard time imagining government admitting it can be wrong.

    1. They definitely have a tendency to do that with small time offenders 'round these parts.

  6. Maybe they could have exercised a little common sense. Eleven tons?

    A quick search says that the entire cocaine market in the USA is about 100 tons for a whole year. The US has about 5 times as many people as Thailand.

    The order of magnitude is just wrong for a single shipment. Unless it is a manufacturing facility for global distribution....

    1. Math (and logic) is hard!

      1. And Western patriarchy.

  7. Drug tests are a pseudoscientific joke. How many horror stories have we heard of people losing their livelihoods because donut glaze tested positive for meth, baking soda tested positive for coke, it goes on and on.

    Why are cops still allowed to ruin lives with this nonsense that isn't even accurate? The article doesn't say it, but I'll bet they made sure to rough up the warehouse owner pretty good before realizing their mistake.

    1. Hey, if politicians and bureaucrats can use Science! so can cops.

    2. It's the very politicizing of science Michael Crichton warned us against.

    3. The purpose of those test kits is to generate probable cause for an arrest and maybe a search too. As such, the fact that they report a positive result for anything put into them - including thin air - is a feature for police departments, not a bug.

      The departments never ADMIT to that mind you, because if they did those kits would cease to generate probable cause.

  8. Mind you, TSP can be harmful if you snort it or inject it, it's a pretty harsh cleaning agent, so the cops were right to have seized the shipment. It's a wonder that it only took them 2 weeks to realize their mistake, they must have much better testing procedures than we have here.

    1. A secret COVID cure?

      1. We can test it on epidemiologists and US state governors.

    2. Dihydrogen monoxide can be harmful if you snort or inject too much of it as well. Doesn't mean the Thai police need to go arrest Manimekhala for drug trafficking.

  9. Our district attorneys would have first offered the defendants a generous plea deal backed up by threats of additional charges.

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  12. Maybe they could get their Drug Czar to snurf a fistful? Don't all those Mussolini types claim infallible knowledge on the subject?

  13. The Thai justice system is no joke. A friend of mine, an Aussie, was hiking, and he took a photo of a lovely swimming spot, and there were a few kids skinny dipping. He was arrested and convicted for distributing child porn; got out after 7 years in one of their prisons. Conditions were so bad, he is now in a wheel chair.

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