CHIANG RAI – A patrol of the 31st Rangers Task Force shot and killed 8 drug couriers and seized 700,000 methamphetamine pills and three assault rifles after a firefight near the Thai-Myanmar border in Mae Sai district on Saturday night, according to border officials
The firefight occurred at approximately 8.30pm after a patrol of the 31st Rangers Task Force spotted a group of about 15 armed drug couriers about 2 kilometers from the border in the golden triangle.
When troops ordered the men stop they couriers opened fire on the soldiers. The rangers returned fire, and the exchange lasted for about 10 minutes.
When the officers went to check the scene of the firefight at 6am on Sunday, they found nine bodies and 700,000 yaba pills in six backpacks. They also retrieved two M16 rifles and one AK-47 gun.
The Golden Triangle, a region in the borderlands of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and southern China, is the world’s second largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Huge quantities of opium, heroin and methamphetamine pills are churned out in remote jungle labs each year for the Asia market and beyond.
Mae Sai district, where the firefight took place, is just across from the so-called Wa State, an autonomous region of eastern Myanmar run by a powerful ethnic militia.
The Wa have turned their homeland into a narco-state, churning out heroin and highly-addictive caffeine-laced methamphetamine pills — to fund their powerful militia and retain independence.
Myanmar’s central government, which is trying to forge a fragile peace with myriad ethnic militias, has little ability or appetite to confront the Wa.