A billion dollar drug bust is a triumph any police force would boast about.
But authorities in Thailand have been left red-faced after their claim of seizing more than 11,000 kilograms of ketamine turned out to be false.
The reason – a “technical error”.
When officials uncovered the 475 sacks containing a white, granular substance on November 12, they held a press conference to announce the major bust.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board said the size of the haul pointed to a multinational network and that Thailand would pursue it with other countries and international agencies.
“The drug is not popular in Thailand and is mostly sold abroad including in Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Japan and Korea,” he said.
Now the country’s justice minister has admitted tests which turned purple in the presence of ketamine hydrochloride reacted the same to trisodium phosphate.
That chemical can be used as a food additive and cleaning agent, which is all that has been found so far.
“This was a misunderstanding that our agency must accept,” Somsak Thepsuthin told reporters.
“This wasn’t a mistake. It’s new knowledge.
“I accept the fact it might have been premature to hold a press conference to announce the seizure.”
He said testing will continue, with some 66 of 475 bags checked by Sunday.
– with CNN