Thai forces kill smugglers at the border
By The Star Online – Thursday September 5 2002
Copyright: The Star Online
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP): Thai security forces shot and killed at least six suspected drug traffickers from Myanmar near the border between the two countries Thursday and seized about 900,000 amphetamine tablets, police said.
A Thai border patrol police official said the dead men were believed to be members of the United Wa State Army — a powerful ethnic army allied to Myanmar’s military regime.
Thai army and border police fought a 30-minute gunbattle with about 20 suspected drug traffickers in a forest in the Maetaeng district of Chiang Mai province, about 580 kilometers (360 miles) north of Bangkok, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Afterward, police found six bullet-riddled bodies and about 900,000 amphetamine pills the traffickers were carrying in backpacks. The other members of the group escaped, the official said.
Thailand blames the Wa army for producing huge quantities of amphetamine pills and smuggling them to Southeast Asia and beyond through Thailand. The Wa army, which reached a cease-fire with the Myanmar regime in 1989, enjoys virtual autonomy in Myanmar’s Shan state.
The United Nations drug control agency says that the Myanmar government’s progress in controlling the production of opium, the raw material of heroin, has been offset by a boom in amphetamines.
According to the Thai government, more than 600 million amphetamine tablets have been smuggled into Thailand from neighboring nations — principally Myanmar and Laos — during the past eight months.