Khao Bin prison in Ratchaburi has increased security to accommodate 200 notorious drug prisoners from other prisons.
Khao Bin has the best security system in the country’s prisons, said the general director of the prison system, Suchart Wongananchai, yesterday.
The main feature of this security is a cell phone jammer that works around the clock.
The misery is said to prevent prisoners behind the bars from interfering in drug trafficking, a problem that has intensified the transfer of approximately 200 inmates from other prisons to Khao Bin in Chom Bung District.
The inmates are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.
Mr. Suchart said that the jammer in Khao Bin was activated online by the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) office in Bangkok.
There are nine tripods, 25 meters high, four of which are in prison and the rest outside the prison walls. The poles can also remove telephone signals up to 100 m from the walls.
“We have to act quickly to end the drug trafficking in prisoners. If we can’t stop it in five years, we will fail. The drug traffickers will rule the prisons,” said Suchart
Separating drug inmates from other inmates helps to weaken drug trafficking. Many drug prisoners taught other inmates the tricks of the trade and soon inmates including former killer drug dealers became themselves.
Thanawe Prawat, Khao Bin prison commander, said that phone signals had penetrated the thickest prison walls and kept in touch with drug networks.
Some drugs were also offered for sale on cell phones in prisons at 10 times the street price.
For example, a single gram of crystal methamphetamine or ya ice cream is sold in a 30,000 baht prison. Outside the prison, the same amount is sold for 2,000-3,000 baht per gram.
Mr. Thanawee said inmates were at risk of smuggling in cell phones because the punishment for the offense was relatively small up to one year in prison and a fine of up to 500 baht.
Many inmates do not care about minor criminal cases for cell phone crimes because they have been sentenced to life imprisonment for between 30 years.
Mr. Thanawee added that commercial banks should help the authorities because some inmates sent money from drug trafficking, which they did behind bars with cell phones.
Ratchaburi police chief Niphon Phupansri said police and guards will start improvised inspections at Khao Bin prison at least once a week.
Kamnan and the village leaders of the communities around the prison were also asked to set up a neighborhood guard to look for any attempts to smuggle drugs and to throw them over the prison walls.
Khao Bin prison encompasses 213 rai land in a remote part of the province surrounded by mountains. The prison facility itself is on 86 rai of land and houses 2,502 inmates.
The prison is divided into nine zones, in which zone 4 is to accommodate the transferred drug inmates.
Zone 4 in a two-story building offers space for a maximum of 220 prisoners, who are divided into six cells equipped with surveillance cameras.
If the zone becomes crowded in the future, some prisoners could be moved to Zone 9, part of which could be relocated to accommodate drug addicts.
Mr. Thanawee said Zone 4 is small enough for effective surveillance.
Kittipoj Kongpiam, one of the 105 guards at Khao Bin prison, said that oversight of notorious drug inmates did not intimidate him.
He deals with many inmates who are big names in drug trafficking.
However, prisoners are “nothing to be afraid of”.
“Prisoners are not crocodiles. They won’t bite,” he said.
The correction department could also consider hiring more guards in Khao Bin in the future, he said.