Internationally-linked syndicates have been making Penang a transit point for their smuggled drugs from the infamous 'Golden Triangle' near the Thai, Myanmar and Laos border, also known as the world's drug factory.
Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Division acting commander for area 4 (south), Maj-Gen Dussadee Choosankij said the drugs would be exported to another country upon reaching Penang.
"I think Malaysia (Penang) is a hub (for drugs trafficked from Thailand) as it has a port and there are Malaysian syndicates which have connection with drug syndicates in other countries.
"The major market for these drugs (via Penang) is Taiwan and after reaching Taiwan, it will be re-exported to other countries," he told Bernama in Bangkok recently.
Dussadee said the syndicates had been known to be using Penang as one of their transit route points for some time.
The role of Penang as the preferred transit point for drug syndicates surfaced based on several cases of failed attempts to smuggle drugs into Malaysia recently.
In all of these cases, the investigators were told that the intended destination for the seized drugs was Penang if they managed to evade the authorities manning the Malaysia-Thailand border.
In May this year, 21 Malaysian drug "mules" were arrested by Thai authorities in two separate sting operations where they discovered 226 kg of methamphetamine and 8 kg of pure heroin stashed in backpacks.
Fifteen of the suspects were nabbed on a train enroute to Butterworth from Bangkok, while another six suspects were arrested in a van in southern Thailand.
Investigators told Bernama they believed the drugs were supposed to be exported to a European country from Penang, where these would be sold triple or quadruple their original price, thus ensuring a huge profit for the syndicates.
On Dec 11, two Malaysians were arrested in Chumphon, southern Thailand where the authorities found 52.4kg of pure heroin and 41kg of methamphetamine hidden in their car they were travelling in.
Dussadee said the two middle-aged men were supposed to drop the drugs to someone in Hatyai, who would then bring the drugs to Penang to be re-exported to another country, with Taiwan or Australia as the probable final destination.
The 52.4kg of pure heroin found in the duo's car carried the infamous Double UOGlobe brand, indicating that it came from one of the heroin factories deep in the Laotian jungle.
A week after that case, Thailand's drug enforcement agency announced another big success in its fight against drug syndicates on Dec 17 with the arrest of seven people and 500kg of methamphetamine or "Ice".
Five of the men were arrested in Chumphon and another two in Hatyai. According to Dussadee, the drugs were supposed to be dropped at Takbai in Narathiwat and smuggled into Malaysia using the Sungai Golok route.
"I believe 100 percent that the drug was to be smuggled into Malaysia before being re-exported to a third country. They were supposed to use Sungai Golok as their entry point into Malaysia as smuggling using a boat via a river is easier," said Dussadee.
One of the seven men arrested in this case, he said, admitted to transporting 14 bags of unknown types of synthetic drugs to Narathiwat in October this year for the drugs to be picked up by someone and brought into Malaysia.
The man, he said, confessed to being a drug mule and received payment for each bag he transported which was concealed as fertiliser bag to evade detection by the authorities.
Dussadee said he had a good relationship with his Malaysian counterparts who also spoke fluent Thai, in their daily battle against drug trafficking across the Malaysia-Thailand border.
"We have good communication," he added.