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Chiang Rai

Alleged drug mule shot dead in clash with troops in Chiang Rai

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Alleged drug mule shot dead in clash with troops in Chiang Rai | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai and Myanmar border at Mae Sai

A drug mule has been shot dead on the border between Chiang Rai and Myanmar, and 350,000 methamphetamine pills were seized following a clash between an Army task force and a group of drug smugglers.

The commander of the Pha Muang Taskforce says the incident happened at 12.30am along the Myanmar border in Ban Sri Pa Daeng village in Tambon Koh Chang of Mae Sai district.

According to reports, Troops patrolling the area saw a group of 15 men carrying backpacks walking across the shallow Luak Canal from Myanmar to the Thai side of the border.

The troops signalled the men to stop but they opened fire at the troops, resulting in a 20 minute gunfight before the suspects retreated to Myanmar.

The troops then waited until dawn before checking the location. At 6.30am they found a man’s body and three backpacks with 350,000 methamphetamine pills inside.



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Chiang Rai. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Chiang Mai

Better analysis needed to track down the source of new chemicals in illicit drugs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Better analysis needed to track down the source of new chemicals in illicit drugs | The Thaiger

The Office of Narcotics Control Board has been training personnel in drug analysis to handle new illicit substances coming onto the streets.

A Chinese analysis lab has recently discovered 230 new psychotropic substances which are making their way into recreational drugs and other foods.

China has subsequently banned several beverages and sweets that contain these new illegal substances.

Thailand’s Justice Minister Prajin Juntong says that better analysis was key in drug prevention and suppression, as it helped identify the sources of the precursor chemicals. Each source used different formulae or ingredients, he said.

“New chemicals that were not used in narcotics before, and not listed in official databases, are now being used. So each confiscated batch will no longer be destroyed right away but be analysed first.”

“Lab tests are time-consuming and require new technology to ensure tests can keep up with the drug trade. This information was shared globally.”

He reported that  Thailand has been cooperating with Australia, China and Singapore and other ASEAN countries in sharing knowledge and analysis techniques.

“Thailand usually serves as a transit country for narcotic smuggling to a third country.”

China’s National Narcotics Control Commission analyst Liu Peipei says her agency recently found 230 new psychoactive substances that could yield “highs”, but had different ingredients from heroin, methamphetamine and other common drugs.

“Recently China has banned the sale of a beverage contaminated with a narcotic that may be harmful to consumers. We also found THC (the active chemical in cannabis) in chocolate and jelly,” she said.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Chiang Mai

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border

The Thaiger

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Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border | The Thaiger

The number of seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine are surging into northern Thailand. The demand rises and the methods of detection and enforcement also improve. It’s a vicious circle.

Authorities say the number of drug seizures have risen 1000% in just the past 2 years, a stark indication of the growth in industrial-scale production in neighboring Myanmar.

Some 18.4 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, was seized in Thailand last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board. They know it’s a tiny proportion of the amounts produced and shipped out undetected.

That figure is up from 5.2 tonnes in 2017 and 1.6 tonnes in 2016. It’s more than three times the amount captured across all of Southeast Asia five years ago – a staggering rise in production and distribution.

Thailand remains a major trafficking route for the artificial drug manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states – the north-eastern states of Myanmar that border China, Laos and Thailand.

Police say organised crime groups work with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs” and allow transport through the regions to borders beyond.

The same mega-labs are also pumping out ‘cocktail’ tablets of methamphetamine, mixed with caffeine and other ‘fillers’. The drug is nicknamed ‘yaba’ in Thailand. Specialist chemists and ‘cooks’ are brought in from Taiwan and China to run the meth labs in Myanmar, while the ingredients and lab equipment mostly come from China.

The methamphetamine tablets are a low-grade recreational drug, inexpensive and popular with blue-collar workers and low-end recreational drug users across South East Asia. The price for a ‘yaba’ pill has plummeted from around 200 baht to 80 baht in the past five years.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

But the Golden Triangle, bordering north-eastern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has a long history of illicit drug trafficking.

It came to the West’s notice as a cultivation hub for opium and heroin refining but those, now, easily detected crops are being replaced with methamphetamine production. The factories are easily hidden underneath the jungle canopy, and with the assistance of ‘co-operative’ local authorities, armed gangs and state-sponsored militias, the precursor drugs and final product move in and out with little trouble.

Once the drugs have made their way through Thailand the drug syndicates use “motherships” that intercept the drugs off the Andaman coast and distribute them to other parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Whilst the growth in production and purity of the drugs is alarming authorities, they are also intercepting and detecting a lot more of the road shipments making their way across the Thai borders. But they readily admit they are only netting a tiny part of the larger iceberg.

Despite the frequent showcasing of large drug hauls by Thai police, the vast majority of the drugs coming out of the back-doors of Myanmar’s meth labs are getting through undetected.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

Tham Luang caves closing for retrieval of all rescue equipment

The Thaiger

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Tham Luang caves closing for retrieval of all rescue equipment | The Thaiger

Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang caves, the scene of the international cave rescue last July, will close to all visitors from February 19 to allow Thai Navy SEALs to enter and recover equipment left in the cave after the rescue mission.

The mission, which captured the attention of media around the world and changed the young men’s lives forever, extracted 13 members of the local Mu Pa youth football team who became trapped by flooding last July when they headed there for a post-training one hour excursion.

Mr. Kavee Prasomphol, chief of the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nangnon national park in Mae Sai district, says the closure of the cave would also allow naval officers to document the scene inside the cave. The areas surrounding the cave remain open to the public.

On January 17, 2019, a SEAL team and rescue workers, including British cave diver Vernon Unsworth and park officials, inspected the cave’s interior and found a large quantity of abandoned oxygen tanks, pumps and other equipment.

They entered the cave system only as far as the third chamber, but have not yet reached the location where the footballers took refuge for more than two weeks.

Enjoy The Thaiger’s dedication to the rescuers and volunteers who found and retrieved the football team…

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