A combined government unit clashed with armed smugglers in a mountainous area near the Myanmar border in Chiang Rai province and seized about 12 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”, on Tuesday morning.
The government unit comprising narcotics suppression police, border patrol police and soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the Pha Muang Force was patrolling on a ridge in the Chang Moop and Pha Hi mountains in tambons Huay Khrai and Pong Ngam in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district after a tip-off that a large quantity of drugs would be smuggled across the border into Thailand.
About 5am, a group of armed men was sighted near Pha Hi village, about three kilometres from the border.
The patrol unit encircled the suspected smugglers, who opened fire. They exchanged shots for about 10 minutes and then the traffickers fled in the direction of SanTon Pui village in tambon Huay Khrai, leaving behind a sack containing 12 packages of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 12kg.
A helicopter of the Phua Muang Force was sent to search for the fleeing drug porters, but they escaped into the rugged terrain and thick foliage.
Pol Lt Gen Rewat Klinkesorn, chief of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said the armed men were probably hired to transport the crystal meth across the border from Myanmar to a storage area, from where it would be distributed inside the country.