Drug smuggling to Thailand mounts
by Usa Pichai
Saturday, 31 October 2009 18:24
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two drug smugglers were shot dead by Thai security forces in gun battles in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai province, north of Thailand even as the Thai government expressed worry that more drugs would be smuggled into the country given the fighting between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups.
Col Somsak Nilbanjerdkul, Deputy Phamuang Task Force of the Thai Third Army said on Saturday that two drug traffickers were shot dead in gun battles with Thai troops in Houi San Village of Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai Province border with Burma.
Col Somsak said the clashes occurred on Saturday, when border patrols from the task force found armed men trying to cross into Thailand. They opened fire on Thai forces. The gun battle lasted more than 10 minutes. Officials found two unidentified bodies believed to be of Wa soldiers. They also found 50,000 methamphetamines in a bag, labeled “WY” produced in Burma. The other gunmen fled.
On Friday, Pol Maj Gen Songtham Alpaj, Chiang Rai Provincial Police Chief said that officials were apprehensive that drug trafficking would increase in the area. On Friday, The police set up a check point in Phaya Mangrai district and inspected a car used by traffickers. The smugglers tried to escape and opened fire on the police, according to a report in a Thai news website the Manager.
After the gun fight the police inspected the area and found two bodies identified as that of Pichit Tochuwech and Somsak Buachuwong. They seized 48,000 methamphetamines and seven kilograms of Ice drugs from the car. The Thai Deputy Prime Minister, Suthep Teuksuban said on Thursday tension along the Thailand–Burma border had increased possibly due to fighting between the Burmese Army and an ethnic armed group. Thai authorities expected the armed group would distribute more drugs in Thailand for buying weapons. The Thai authorities would beef up surveillance on the border.
Suthep visited Chiang Rai Province on Wednesday to review the situation on the Thailand-Burma border. He said that the equipment used by drug control officials were not adequate for operations against drug traffickers.
“There are reports that chemicals for manufacturing drugs are being sent to the border. The chemicals are legal but I asked the officials to review security in the area to check inflow of the substance,” he said.
Besides, Chartchai Suttthiklom, the Deputy Director of the Department of Correction said on Friday that the problem of drug trafficking despite arrests and detention of drug traffickers in several prisons in Thailand has not checked the problem.
“We are asking for cooperation from mobile phone companies to cut signals in prison areas and increase surveillance on possible smuggling of cell phones into prisons,” he said.
Officials would transfer kingpins among drug traffickers to Bangkok’s five high security prisons; Bang Kwang Klang, Klong Prem, Khao Bin , Klong Pai Prison and the Central Correctional Institution For Drug Addicts to check the problem.