When the police got word of a staggering amount of the party drug ketamine sitting in a warehouse east of Bangkok, they moved fast. Two weeks later, after a battery of tests failed to turn up one bump’s worth of the drug, they conceded today that all 11.5 tons were nothing more than a common cleaning compound.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin today said the 475 sacks of ketamine, which had been estimated to have a nearly US$1 billion street value, contain the very run-of-the-mill trisodium phosphate, a compound commonly used in detergents that you definitely don’t want to kitty flip with in a Thonglor bar toilet.
“I admit that the agency lacks knowledge about this compound because it’s new,” Somsak said of the cleaning compound that’s been in wide use for at least seven decades, “and has never been found to be tested purple in Thailand.”
The disclosure came following negative test results of samples from 66 of the bags. Somsak said narcotics field officers were to blame as they didn’t know that the compound, also known as TSP, can turn purple in the same way ketamine does by a rapid test kit.
The minister denied accusations that cops interceded to hide narcotics in the bags on the behalf of an unnamed powerful owner. He said they will send more samples to three labs, including the police forensics science division, medical sciences department, and narcotics control board, with results expected within a week. He added that other agencies are welcome to obtain samples for their lab if they are interested.
Narcotics Control Board Secretary Wichai Chaimongkol said they would still investigate the product’s origins and purpose. Officers had been tipped by Taiwanese authorities after 300 kilograms of the drug were found in a number of the same bags imported there from Thailand.
Wichai said the TSP would make sense to hide the Special K, due to their similar appearance.
“We don’t have information about this drug ring yet, but it doesn’t mean that they have never committed any crimes,” Wichai said. “The warehouse owner escaped the last time, but police now are collecting evidence and asking for an arrest warrant from a court for his possible involvement in the ketamine case in Taiwan.”