Following a brief firefight Sunday morning, Thai troops recovered around 225kg of crystal meth abandoned by a gang of drug smugglers on the Thai side of the Thai-Myanmar border in Mae Sai district of the northern province of Chiang Rai.
The troops were on a routine patrol in Ban Pa Daeng, Ko Chang sub-district, as part of narcotics suppression operations when they came across ten armed individuals crossing the Sai River natural boundary from Myanmar, according to the Pha Muang task force.
When the troops ordered them to stop for a search, the gang, thought to be Wa or Tai Yai ethnic people from Myanmar’s Shan state, opened fire. The intruders escaped to Myanmar after a five-minute fire battle. There were no injuries among Thai forces, and as they searched the area, they discovered nine knapsacks, each holding 20-25kg of crystal meth (Ice).
According to a task force officer, the illegal drugs were made at a lab in Myanmar’s Shan state and then transported to a storage facility near the Thai border in Myanmar’s Tachileik region of the golden triangle before being smuggled across the border by armed ethnic groups into Chiang Rai.
According to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Thailand’s fight with increased drug use continues, with crystal methamphetamine likely to spread as officials plan a closer watch over border areas to prevent drug smuggling.
Eighty percent of illegal drugs come from three provinces near drug production bases: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son. Thailand’s northern and northeastern borders have been extensively watched, and the ONCB has collaborated with security authorities to establish border checkpoints.
The government’s initiatives aim to reduce the demand for illegal drugs by blocking drug transit routes, cracking down on drug smuggling, and treating drug users’ habits.
Meanwhile, Pol Caol Phum Banthip, the Hat Yai police chief in the southern province of Songkhla, held a press conference on Saturday to announce the seizure of 272 bars of heroin weighing around 100kg in total.
On September 16, anti-narcotics officers directed a four-door Isuzu truck to stop for a search at a checkpoint at the Khuan Lang crossroads in Hat Yai district. The pickup drove past the roadblock, forcing the cops to pursue it.
The truck was stopped at a petrol station in the Na Mom neighbourhood, about 10 km distant.
During the search, 272 bars of heroin in seven bags weighing approximately 100kg with a street value of around 50 million baht were discovered in the vehicle. Buraheng Samo, 35, of Pattani, the driver, was arrested.
Mr Buraheng’s information led to the arrest of Abdulfata Awae, also from Pattani, in a Ford pickup at a resort in Songkhla province’s Thepha district. He had employed the second pickup as a lookout vehicle.
The two claimed they were hired by a woman named Rohaiya Che-ha of Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok area to transport heroin from Phetchaburi to Sungai Kolok, from whence it would be smuggled into Malaysia.
They stated that they had previously been engaged to do this six times for 400,000-500,000 baht every delivery.
On September 17, police detained Ms Rohaiya at a residence in Sungai Kolok, armed with a Songkhla Court warrant, and confiscated six vehicles suspected of being used in the narcotics trade for examination. The three were charged with possessing heroin, a Category 1 narcotic, with intent to sell.
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