‘Ya ba’ profits go to tsunami fund


Charity in the wake of the tsunami disaster may come from rather unexpected quarters, it seems. A drug dealer apparently hoped to boost his business by assuring customers he would donate 30 per cent of the profits from his sales to Thai tsunami victims.

Nopporn Thongthammachart, 31, was arrested at 2am yesterday in Bangkok’s Taling Chan district in a sting operation during which police seized 300 tablets methamphetamine, known locally as “ya ba”, Metropolitan Police Division 8 superintendent Colonel Jirasak Khamkong said.

Jirasak said Nopporn had admitted to working for a credit company while peddling drugs on the side and quitting his day job over a month ago as his drug sales had gone very well. Nopporn insisted to police that he had donated some of his ill-gotten gains to tsunami victims through the bank account of the the Army’s tsunami relief fund.

“For every Bt10,000 he sold, he said he donated Bt3,000 to the victims,” Jirasak said, adding that Nopporn said he had retailed his Bt140-a-tablet pills for Bt240 a tablet, each day selling some 150 pills – apparently at a profit of some Bt15,000.

“I felt business would pick up if I decided to donate some of the money and so I kept donation receipts to show my customers and tell them that anyone who bought drugs from me would also help tsunami victims by their purchase,” Nopporn, who insisted he had donated a total of Bt13,000, was quoted as saying.

Jirasak confirmed that Nopporn had shown officers receipts for donations made through the Army’s charity fund.

Nopporn has been charged with possession and sale of drugs, a crime that carries the death penalty.

The Army is willing to return the Bt13,000 donated by Nopporn should police wish to impound the drug money as evidence, said assistant Army commander-in-chief General Lertrat Rattanawanit.

“The money was made by dirty means and so the donor might have wanted to redeem his sinful acquisition through a charitable cause,” he said.

“Yet if the beneficiaries [the tsunami victims] learned of the donations’ origins, they might not be too happy to accept it.”

Published on February 05, 2005