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April 2005
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And we only have one drug war…

In Thailand:

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday launched his government’s third war on drugs with the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) setting a target for Thailand to be free of illegal drug production by the end of this year. …

Ah, those wonderful drug-free goals. Remember them? The U.S. used to have a goal of drug free America by the year 2000 (just in case you haven’t been following along, it didn’t happen). Of course, prohibition ended up causing more problems (including contributing to a younger initiation in drug use). So now we have a goal of reducing teen drug use by 10%.
Back to Thailand. So how did their first two wars go?

The first war on drugs in 2003 resulted in the killings of over 2,500 drug suspects. Police claimed traffickers were killing each other to sever any links to themselves.

However, local and foreign human rights organisations accused the authorities of a secret campaign of summary execution of suspects, charging that many innocent people were killed on the basis of hearsay.

Well, there’s 2,500 people who won’t be doing any more drugs. I guess the Prime Minister would consider that a successful war.

Mr Thaksin, however, refused to admit any failure and launched a second war in October last year. But he released no statistics this time round.

Oops. No statistics for Drug War II. Not a good sign. Usually if you win a war, you like to brag about it, not suddenly go quiet and then declare a third war.
So let’s see how the drug smugglers have reacted to these wars:

Despite the increased suppression of the trade, Thailand is still attractive to many drug smugglers due to its higher retail prices

Yep, Thailand has made itself very attractive for drug smuggling because of its harsh prohibition tactics. Prices have gone up (while demand is inelastic) and now smugglers can make a huge profit for a small amount of drugs. It’s the get rich quick opportunity for the bold or violent international criminal — made possible by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
That’s how the black market works.

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