Armed drug smugglers killed in clash with border rangers in Chiang Rai

Officers told the men to stop for a search, but the smugglers opened fire

Two armed drug smugglers were killed in a clash with border rangers in Chiang Rai along the Thai-Myanmar frontier on Thursday.

Pha Muang Force spotted a small group of armed men with backpacks in the forest near Ban Huai Kra in the Mae Fa Luang district on Thursday evening.

The officers told the men to stop for a search, but the smugglers opened fire, which was quickly returned by the patrol. The ensuing firefight lasted about five minutes before the surviving gang members made off. No soldiers were injured.

Officers set up a defensive position in the area as it was after sunset and, on Friday morning, officers inspected the scene and found the two drug smugglers killed the previous night in the clash with border rangers.

Soldiers found two AK-47 assault rifles and two batches of 4,000 meth pills near the bodies.

They believe the pair were part of a frontline force protecting the main drug caravan. Pha Muang Force teams have been deployed to track down the remaining gang members.

Last week, narcotics police seized six million meth pills in Chiang Rai province. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said yesterday that officers stopped a timber truck and two cars after officers were alerted that a large number of drugs was to be transported from Mae Fah Luang to other storage places. The drugs were then to be distributed in Bangkok and southern provinces.

Thailand has made considerable progress in combating the drug trade in Chiang Rai. From the military base at Doi Chang Mub overlooking Myanmar, joint patrols are conducted regularly to counter trafficking.

Meth continues to be the most popular, cheap, and readily available illicit narcotic in Thailand and all over Southeast Asia, where the synthetic drug trade is booming.

Last year, there were a few drug busts in Thailand involving millions of meth pills. The biggest clash with border rangers happened back in January 2021 when police seized 15.2 million meth pills in Chiang Rai.

Northern Thailand News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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