CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thailand has asked authorities in neighboring Myanmar to arrest an ethnic rebel leader who was recently added to a list of most wanted drug dealers by Bangkok, a senior minister said Tuesday.
Na Kham Mwe, head of a faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), allegedly issued a “threat” to Thais living in Tak province bordering Myanmar in response to his inclusion on a list of 25 top narcotics traders.
The Office of Narcotic Control Board (ONCB), which has offered a one million baht reward ($32,000) for Na Kham Mwe without giving details of the charges against him, has now asked Myanmar’s chief of police to arrest the rebel fighter, according to Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobumrung.
“I am ready to travel (to Myanmar) to discuss this issue and its coordination because this issue (drugs) has caused so much suffering to Thais,” Chalerm told reporters.
He said the rebel leader had been wanted on Thai drugs charges since 2003.
The website of the exiled Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) last week said the group was angry with Thai authorities after they implicated its leader in drug running and demanded evidence of his accusations.
Fierce fighting between the DKBA and Myanmar’s army erupted on the day that Naypyidaw held a controversial election in 2010 and continued into 2011, pushing thousands of refugees across the border into Thailand.
Myanmar is the world’s second largest opium poppy grower in the world after Afghanistan and is also a source for methamphetamines.
In December, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said opium cultivation had surged in the country as high prices attract impoverished farmers to grow the illicit crop, particularly in conflict areas. Shan state, to the north of the DKBA’s heartland, was said to account for the majority of production.