CHAING RAI – Laotian anti-narcotics agents Friday seized a cargo boat on the Mekong River along with 22 million amphetamine tablets found hidden on board, after a shootout with the crew in which two suspects were killed and several others disappeared after jumping overboard.
The nationalities of the dead suspects and of the vessel could not be ascertained yet.
Laotian officials said that acting on information from Myanmar authorities; they tracked the boat until it arrived at a location near jointly controlled waters off Chiang Saen district in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, Laos’ Bor Kaew area and Myanmar’s Pong area, 10 kilometres north of the Golden Triangle.
From a speedboat supplied by Chinese authorities, who are taking an active anti-narcotics role on the mekong River, the Laotian officials opened fire on the boat after it refused to stop and tried to flee, before the suspects returned fire. The officials later boarded the vessel and found the two dead suspects.
According to the officials, the tablets, contained in several bags and hidden among sacks of cargo, belonged to a big-time ethnic-Wa drug dealer, known as Nia, who is a native of Wang Sang in Myanmar’s Wa State.
Yesterday’s action follows the seizure of 21 million amphetamine tablets and 400 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”, in mid-March on a boat on the mekong 178km north of the Golden Triangle, with five Chinese and one Thai suspect arrested and handed over to Chinese authorities for prosecution. The Thai was identified as Theeraphan Sitthiya, 35, a native of Chiang Saen district.