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Drugs bust man facing execution

By Andrew Drummond

A Belfast man could be facing a death sentence in Thailand after being arrested and accused of dealing in a cocktail of drugs in a beach resort.

Thomas McAuley (48) was allegedly caught in a police sting operation in the Thai resort of Pattaya, 100 miles east of Bangkok this week. Thai police say he was dealing in crystal ice, methamphetamines, known locally as ‘yaa baa’ — the mad drug — and also opium and cannabis.

McAuley, born in Belfast but an Irish passport holder, is |accused by police of selling drugs to teenagers in the resort city.

During a press conference, police Colonel Somnut Jutkate said: “He dealt the drugs from his Toyota Fortuna (a sports utility vehicle). After receiving information we put him under surveillance.”

He said Thai police had used an informant to buy a quantity of drugs valued at 6,000 Thai baht (approximately £115).

Police said when he was arrested McAuley had 109 grams of crystal ice in his possession, in two packets.

They said he was also in possession of seven tabs of methamphetamine, 11.4 grams of cannabis, and 12 grams of opium as well as a set of scales and 60 bags.

Police said he also had on him 52,000 Thai baht (£1,107).

“He is a major drugs dealer in Pattaya,” said Police Colonel Jutkate.

McAuley has now been charged with trafficking in Class one and two drugs. The charge of trafficking in Class one drugs carried the death sentence in Thailand, although this is often commuted to life imprisonment for westerners.

If convicted, McAuley will serve his sentence in Bangkwang Prison, Bangkok, known as ‘The Big Tiger’.

People convicted on drugs charges cannot apply for parole or pardons. However, he could be deported after serving one third of his sentence through a prisoner repatriation treaty.

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