Thailand’s ‘largest ketamine bust’ turns out to be cleaning solvent

Thailand's 'largest ketamine bust' turns out to be cleaning solvent

Thailand authorities claimed to have made the “largest ketamine bust” in the country’s history earlier this month — only the “drugs” turned out to be a common cleaning solvent.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said Tuesday that a “technical error” during field testing had led to the original false claim, the Bangkok Post reported.

“This was a misunderstanding that our agency must accept,” he told reporters.

The nation’s anti-narcotics agency on Nov. 12 had proudly announced the seizure of 11.5 tons of ketamine, a sedative used as a party drug, from a warehouse in the Chachoengsao province, close to Bangkok.

But lab tests later found that the powdery white substance was actually trisodium phosphate — a chemical compound commonly used as a cleaning agent, stain remover and even food additive.

At a press conference announcing the supposed historic seizure, the country’s Office of Narcotics Control Board said it had acted on a tip that a foreign drug network planned to smuggle the ketamine to Taiwan via Thailand, The Nation reported.

“The drugs are the largest amount ever seized in Thailand…,” Wichai Chaimongkhol, the agency’s secretary-general, had declared.

The justice minister explained Tuesday that the mix-up occurred because preliminary tests, which turn purple in the presence of ketamine, react the same to trisodium phosphate.

He later admitted that it “might have been premature to hold a press conference” at such an early stage.