BANGKOK — Fifteen suspected drug smugglers have been killed and about 2 million methamphetamine tablets seized in northern Thailand close to the Myanmar border after a shootout with Thai troopers, Thai officers mentioned.
The conflict, which occurred Saturday evening, got here after the native military acquired a tip that there can be smuggling exercise close to the border in Chiang Rai province, mentioned Phanurat Lukboon, appearing secretary-general of the Workplace of the Narcotics Management Board.
Officers discovered a bunch of about 20 individuals carrying backpacks within the space, Phanurat mentioned on Sunday. After the officers recognized themselves and requested to examine the baggage, the group started capturing at them, he added.
The conflict lasted round quarter-hour and the Thai officers have been all secure, Phanurat mentioned whereas on a go to to the positioning the place the incident occurred. He thanked the officers for his or her assist in “stopping these terrible issues from coming into our nation and destroying our youth.”
Seventeen backpacks constituted of fertilizer sacks have been discovered with the suspected smugglers and greater than 2 million methamphetamine capsules have been inside the baggage, officers mentioned.
No arrests have been made and officers have been nonetheless working to determine the 15 individuals killed within the conflict and the origin of the medication, in line with the Workplace of the Narcotics Management Board.
On Wednesday, Thailand introduced it had seized 50 million methamphetamine tablets within the western province of Kanchanaburi, additionally close to the Myanmar border. It was mentioned to be a document haul of the drug within the nation.
Myanmar has traditionally been Southeast Asia’s essential drug manufacturing space partly due to lax safety measures in border areas the place minority ethnic teams have lengthy been combating for higher autonomy. Among the highly effective ethnic armed teams there have been closely concerned in narcotics manufacturing for many years.
A 2021 army takeover in Myanmar that unseated the elected authorities of Aung San Suu Kyi triggered armed resistance nationwide, additional destabilizing the nation and contributing to a rise in its drug manufacturing.
Final week, the United Nations Workplace on Medicine and Crime mentioned in its “Southeast Asia Opium Survey 2023” that Myanmar has topped Afghanistan to turn into the world’s greatest opium producer.
The U.N. drug company’s June 2023 report on artificial medication in East and Southeast Asia warned that the large commerce in methamphetamine and different unlawful medication exhibits no indicators of slowing down.