6 June 2024

Thai police and officials from the Thai Food and Drug Administration and the Narcotics Control Board have cracked down on a transnational gang allegedly involved in the distribution of weight loss pills, mixed with sibutramine, to many countries, including the United States, Australia, Singapore, China and the UK.

More than 270 items, including appetite suppressants, sleeping pills, sibutramine and equipment worth over six million baht were seized and four suspects, including a Pakistani national, were arrested in raids on six locations in Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces.

The police also seized receipts from several weight loss clinics, which had allegedly bought the pills from the gang.

Commander of the Consumer Protection Police Division, Pol Maj-Gen Anan Nanasombat, said that the successful raids were coordinated with Malaysian police, via Interpol, after the arrest of a key suspect, a Kazakh woman identified as Gaukhar Mussainova, in Malaysia about two years ago.

The woman was well known in the weight loss drug trade and the gang sold the pills online using Thailand as the hub for the illegal trade.

The Pakistani man, identified only as Shabir, was arrested at an apartment in On Nut Soi 17.

Those arrested reportedly told the police that they had sold the weight loss pills to customers in 34 countries.

Sibutramine, formerly sold under the brand name Maridia among others, is an appetite suppressant which has been discontinued in many countries. Until 2010, it was widely marketed and prescribed as an adjunct in the treatment of obesity, along with diet and exercise. It has been associated with increased cardiovascular events and strokes.