Burmese Drug Mule killed in Gun Battle with Thai Border Patrol
It’s War on Thailand’s Border with Myanmar – Thai soldier with an M-16 rifle (Commons Wikimedia)
As my novel BACK in part revolves around drugs, borders and Asian jungles, I was interested to read a UPI report on a battle a while back between Burmese drug couriers and Thailand’s military – an increasingly frequent occurrence as Burma continues to flood the rest of Asia with methaphetamines.
I have added photos for illustration.
Thai police said they shot and killed a suspected drug smuggler during a gun battle with 20 suspects in a remote mountainous area near the border with Myanmar. Police said the dead suspect had 290,000 methamphetamine capsules in a backpack.
Police acted on a tip that a group of smugglers would cross the border at night and would be carrying about 1 million methamphetamine capsules.
A group of Ranger border guards confronted the smugglers who were carrying backpacks. The gunfight started when the men refused to stop and be searched.
The clash lasted about 10 minutes and the surviving suspects retreated across the border into Myanmar.
The confrontation occurred along a well-known drug smuggling route where the Myanmar side of the border is controlled by the rebel United Wa State Army and where the pills are manufactured.
Methamphetamine smuggling from Myanmar into Thailand by UWSA is a major issue for the Thai government, but stopping the illegal trade, as well as the manufacture of the drugs in Myanmar, hasn’t been easy.
Myanmar’s former military government had been battling rebel groups in several areas for decades and from time to time agreed to cease-fires. The UWSA, which includes members of the Wa ethnic group, previously supported the military when it took control of Burma — as Myanmar was called — in a 1962 coup. But since the early to mid-1980s, the Wa and other guerrilla fighters have retreated to the northern part of Shan state.
More cease-fires are being sought by the nominally civilian government of former junta leaders to convince the international community to lift of economic sanctions. The cease-fires, however, often leave rebel groups free to continue their manufacturing and smuggling without interference.
Australian National University Professor Desmond Ball, writing in the Bangkok Post last year, said Myanmar is “the largest narcotic state in the world” if the production of opium and methamphetamine is combined.
In November a Chinese court sentenced a drug baron from Myanmar and three of his alleged gang to death for killing 13 Chinese sailors in an attack on the Mekong River.
Two more gang members were jailed by the court in Kunming, in Yunnan province in southwestern China. The men were found to have planned — with the help of Thai soldiers — an attack on two Chinese cargo ships in October 2011.
The bodies of the 13 sailors were found floating in the river, blindfolded and with their hands tied or handcuffed. All of them had died of gunshot wounds.
The Mekong flows through the Golden Triangle area of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The triangle is known for opium and heroin smuggling and increasingly for methamphetamine. Many ships have been hijacked to move millions of methamphetamine pills along the river as part of the transportation system that includes horse and donkey routes through the mountains.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
And for POWs left behind in Laos:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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