On Friday, soldiers recovered more than 80 kilograms of opium after exchanging gunfire with a group of drug smugglers along the Thai-Myanmar border in the Mae Ai district of this northern border province.
On Friday afternoon, a military patrol from the Pha Muang task force noticed six suspected males carrying rucksacks near the border at Pang Tonne Due hamlet in tambon Mae Ai. The soldiers signalled the guys to come to a halt for a search, but they were met with gunfire. The army retaliated by firing back.
The armed men ran across the border to Myanmar after a brief exchange of gunfire. There were no reported injuries. Officers discovered four rucksacks with 51 bundles of opium totaling 81.6kg at the scene of the confrontation.
Historically, Myanmar has been a significant contributor to the global opium supply. The cultivation of opium poppies and the production of opium have been associated with various challenges, including drug trafficking, addiction, and the destabilization of regions where cultivation is prevalent.
Opium in Thailand
Opium has had a significant history in Thailand, particularly in the Golden Triangle region where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Laos converge. The Golden Triangle has been a major opium-producing area for many decades.
Historically, opium cultivation and trade were prevalent in Thailand, and the country faced significant challenges related to drug trafficking and addiction. In the 20th century, Thailand took measures to address the opium problem and reduce its cultivation and trade.
In the 1970s, the Thai government launched a campaign known as the “War on Drugs” to combat drug abuse and trafficking. The efforts included crop substitution programs aimed at encouraging farmers to switch from opium cultivation to alternative crops, as well as law enforcement operations to crack down on drug traffickers.
Since then, Thailand has made progress in reducing opium cultivation and addressing drug-related issues. The Thai government has worked closely with international organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to implement drug control strategies and promote alternative livelihoods for farmers.
However, it’s important to note that despite these efforts, opium production and trafficking still persist in certain areas of the Golden Triangle, mainly in the border regions. The complex and transnational nature of drug trade poses ongoing challenges for Thailand and its neighboring countries.
It’s worth mentioning that I can only provide information up until September 2021, and the situation may have evolved since then. For the most up-to-date information on Thailand’s efforts to address opium production and drug trafficking, I recommend referring to recent reports from reliable sources or international organizations like the UNODC.
Soldiers Seize Methamphetamine
On Thursday, two Myanmar drug smugglers were apprehended and more than 300,000 speed pills were seized from them along the Thai-Myanmar border in this northern border province’s Chiang Dao district.
On Thursday night, Rangers from the army’s Pha Muang task group observed three suspected males with rucksacks going along the border near Suan Lamyai border crossing in tambon Muang Na. The soldiers signalled for them to stop for a search, but the men bolted. The officers pursued and eventually apprehended two of them, both Myanmar nationals.
Two customised rucksacks containing 342,000 methamphetamine pills were seized from them. According to the arresting team, the suspects were sent over to the Na Wai police station in Chiang Dao for legal proceedings.
Following intelligence that small groups of drug smugglers are attempting to transport illicit substances into Thailand via natural border crossings, security agents have been placed on high alert along border areas around the clock.