THE NATION February 9, 2012 1:00 am
As part of an ongoing crackdown on drug trafficking within prisons, all prison guards will have to undergo periodic polygraph tests and urine tests, while DNA tests will be conducted on seized mobile phones in order to identify corrupt officials, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said yesterday.
The polygraph or lie-detection test should discourage corrupt officials, PACC secretary-general Dusadee Arayawuth said.
“DNA tests to find latent fingerprints on handsets might also find important links between inmates and corrupt prison guards,” he added.
Dusadee was speaking at a press conference held yesterday to provide details on an ongoing effort to control rampant drug dealing in prisons that will be run by PACC and three government agencies: Corrections Department, Department of Special Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Office.
Under the Justice Ministry’s guidelines, the DSI and the Corrections Department have been tasked with gathering information and identifying suspected inmates and prison guards, the PACC would take legal action against officials implicated by evidence and the AMLO would seize their assets during prosecution and after conviction.
Corrections Department director-general Suchart Wonganantachai said he would not protect corrupt prison officials, and said that since he took office late last year, 18 guards had been discharged dishonourably.
In October, 700 mobile phones were seized in prisons, 700 in November, 500 units in December, 200 in January and another 100 units as of yesterday. “The statistics show that new units are being continuously smuggled into prisons,” he added.
Ratchaburi’s Khao Bin prison, which houses 221 high-profile drug dealers and another 3,000 inmates held on other charges, will get another 150 guards to help the 125 already stationed there, he said.
A search at Khao Bin prison yesterday turned up one mobile phone, four SIM cards and a charger, along with many other contraband items including spikes made from scrap metal. A mobile-phone signal |jammer has been installed at the prison.
Similar raids were conducted yesterday at provincial prisons in Tak, Chaiyaphum and Surin. Apart from finding some contraband items at the prisons in Tak and Chaiyaphum, officials found eight mobile handsets, five SIM cards and many chargers, including a home-made one, at the Surin facility.
Commander of Surin’s Rattana Buri prison, Phaisal Suwannaraksa, said he believed the drug-dealing network between his facility and the Khao Bin prison had been broken thanks to the frequent raids and suppression. After three prison guards were dismissed last week, investigation into their links with a key racket leader – known as Phanuwat “Black Mouth” Sirichai – is underway.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said Thai officials would be soon dispatched to Asean countries as well as China’s Yunnan province. The proposal will soon be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. “Yunnan is a key production source of reactants to various types of illegal drugs,” he said, adding that he was studying anti-narcotics operations adopted by Australian authorities.
“Australia is either free of drugs, or it can tackle the trade very successfully,” he added.