Thai police shoot dead five drug suspects
Bangkok, Nov 11 (AFP) Thai police shot dead five suspected drug smugglers and seized hundreds of thousands of methamphetamine pills today after a firefight near the Myanmar border, an official said.
The clash broke out at around 10:00 am (0300 GMT) in a district bordering Myanmar in northern Chiang Mai province when 10 indigenous people refused official calls to stop after crossing the frontier, according to border patrol police.
“Five hill tribe people were shot dead during the fighting and we seized six bags carrying a total of 420,000 tablets of methamphetamine,” a local border patrol police officer, who did not want to be named, told by telephone.
“Hill tribe people” is the term used in Thailand to described the various indigenous tribes living in the northern and western parts of the country.
There were no casualties among security forces, the border patrol officer added. Police said the other five indigenous people escaped custody.
Deputy national police chief Pongsapat Pongcharoen said the drugs seized had a street value of 4.2 million baht (USD 128,000). Clashes between security forces and drug traffickers are fairly common in the kingdom’s remote border regions.
Thailand has seen a marked increase in seizures of methamphetamine — which is relatively cheap and easy to make — often smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar where armed rebels use profits from narcotics to fund their operations.