Four couriers killed in clash with rangers

CHIANG RAI : Four drug couriers were killed and one was detained with a large quantity of drugs seized near the border with Myanmar in Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district in a clash between rangers and traffickers yesterday morning.The clash took place on the ridge of Doi Sam Sao on the border of Thailand and Myanmar near Ban Loyo in tambon Patueng of Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district opposite a reported drug production site of the United Wa State Army, or Red Wa, on the Myanmar border.

Rangers seize a large quantity of drugs after a clash with armed drug gang members near the border with Myanmar in Chiang Rai’s Mae Chan district yesterday. Four drug couriers were killed and one was detained after a gunfire exchange. CHINPAT CHAIMON

The rangers from Company 3108 and Company 3109 under Task Force 31 were sent to lie in wait in the area on receiving information that a band of drug traffickers of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) under Lt Col Yi Se would transport drugs across the border via Doi Sam Sao, according to the Pha Muang Task Force which oversees the area.

The rangers spotted eight armed traffickers who carried three backpacks and stopped them for a search. But the traffickers opened fire, forcing the authorities to fire back. The exchange of fire ensued for about two hours. During the clash, the rangers detonated claymore mines planted in the area.

The traffickers retreated across the border.

Later, while checking the clash site, the rangers found four bodies in a shallow creek.

They recovered from the bodies 25 bundles of 50,000 methamphetamine pills, 13 packs of heroin weighing about 2kg, one AK47 rifle, one shotgun, and one Chinese-made hand grenade.

Pol Maj Gen Wanchai Suwansirikhet, the Chiang Rai police chief, and Col Yongyuth Laokhetkan, commander of Pha Muang Task Force, inspected the scene.

A helicopter was used to chase the traffickers who fled, and one more suspect was arrested.

He suffered a bullet wound to his leg, the task force said.