Drug traffickers and rangers swapped gunfire on Thai-Burmese border

Soldiers confiscate drugs, photo by Naewna.

Drug traffickers and army rangers were involved in a gunfight on the Thai-Burmese border in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district on Tuesday night. The rangers witnessed a group of 30 men. Five men were carrying knapsacks, while five had guns.

The rangers signalled for the group to stop and they responded by firing at the rangers. A battle between the two groups then began.

The drug traffickers managed to escape back over the border to Myanmar. It is believed that they carried over members of their group who were dead or injured. But the group left behind some of its stash. In the six bags left behind rangers found about 760,000 meth pills, Naewna reported.

Thailand’s northern border with Laos and Myanmar, better known as the Golden Triangle, is a hotbed of methamphetamine production. Most of the ‘meth labs’ are portable, well patrolled, and hidden under thick jungle canopies, away from prying satellite and overhead surveillance.

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Between October 2021 and March 2022, Thai police arrested more than 120,000 drug suspects, seized more than 2.4 billion baht in assets and confiscated more than 260 million pills of illegal substances like methamphetamine, aka “speed.” Besides speed, the most common drug was marijuana, with some 53,000 kilograms confiscated. Next was crystal meth (ice), with more than 7,552 kilograms found, followed by quantities of heroin and ketamine.

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

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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