BANGKOK: An Ecuadorian and a Russian have been arrested for attempting to smuggle 2.3 kilogrammes of cocaine into Thailand mixed into bottles of skin lotion, police said on Tuesday.
Acting after a tip-off from Interpol, Thai drug police held the Ecuadorian woman after she arrived on a flight from Peru at Bangkok's main airport on Monday.
A search of her luggage uncovered six containers of body lotion laced with cocaine, said Wutthipong Phetkamnerd, the narcotics officer leading the case.
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"It was mixed in with the skin moisturising lotion – a new smuggling tactic to avoid arrest," he told reporters, without detailing how the would-be traffickers intended to extract the cocaine from the lotion.
After her arrest, the woman led police to a Russian man who was waiting for her at a hotel.
Both have been detained while officers investigate the case – the latest drug bust in a country that serves as a key transit stop for contraband.
Thailand is a major drug market as well as a transit route, with a particular penchant for "yaba" – meth pills produced in the notorious Golden Triangle region bordering Laos and Myanmar.
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While drug seizures and arrests of low-level couriers are common, it is rare for Thai police to take down cartel kingpins.
Yet last month Thai cops arrested 42-year-old Xaysana Keopimpha, a Laotian who they allege is a high-level drug dealer behind a network that ran drugs from the Golden Triangle through Thailand and into Malaysia.
Officers are investigating whether a network of Bangkok high society figures and celebrities helped launder his drug profits and shield the gang's assets from authorities.