CHIANG RAI – Drug Suppression forces have shot and killed seven suspected drug smugglers and seized six backpacks of heroin after a firefight near the Myanmar border, an official said, in the latest clash over narcotics in the remote region.
This latest clash between smugglers and the Rangers broke out between around a dozen suspected drug traffickers and paramilitary forces Thursday night in Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang district in Mae Chanluang village.
According to the District chief Vorayan Bunarat authorities still don’t know the identities of the victims.
The two sides exchanged fire for more than 10 minutes and after the clash ended the smugglers retreated back into the forest into Myanmar. There were no casualties among the Army Rangers.
At dawn, the soldiers cleared the area and found the bodies of seven men dead from bullet wounds and six backpacks containing 201 bars of heroin weighing about 70kg and one rifle, were found near their bodies.
A member of a military intelligence unit told the Bangkok Post the armed men were members of a drug caravan of a Muser tribal drug trafficking network that wielded much influence along the Myanmar border opposite Mae Chan and Mae Fa Luang districts of Chiang Rai and Mae Ai district of Chiang Mai.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board explained prices of heroin varied depending on the quality. No 3 heroin was sold at 200,000 baht a kilo, while high grade No 4 heroin, which was in high demand locally and overseas, could fetched 350,000-400,000 baht a kilo.
The notorious ‘Golden Triangle’ region – covering parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar – was formerly one of the world’s top producers of opium and heroin, until the emergence of Afghanistan as a drugs production hub.
Myanmar’s eastern Shan state accounts for nearly all of the illegal poppy cultivation in the country, which remains the world’s second largest opium producer.
Much of the raw material is believed to be smuggled across the border for processing into heroin in China, which is home to the world’s largest number of addicts.