CHIANG MAI: Soldiers reported finding 15 bodies and 29 sacks of crystal methamphetamine, or "ice", after a gunfight with smugglers in a forest near the border with Myanmar in Fang district.
The clash occurred in tambon Mon Pin, between Ban Pa Kha and Ban Khob Dong, on Wednesday evening, Maj Gen Suparerk Sathapornpol, commander of the Pha Muang Task Force, said on Thursday morning.
The altercation took place near the "Golden Triangle" -- where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet -- which has long been a hub for smuggling despite repeated crackdowns.
Soldiers on patrol sighted a group of about 20 men walking through the forest from the Myanmar border and ordered them to stop.
The men responded with gunfire, he said. The two sides fought it out for about 10 minutes and then the guns fell silent. Soldiers stood guard in the area throughout Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning they searched the area and found 15 dead men and 29 bags containing crystal meth, a highly addictive stimulant often produced in Myanmar and shipped through Thailand and Laos for export around Asia. They also found a Kabine rifle and a hand grenade at the scene.
The Pha Muang Task Force monitors six border provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Uttaradit and Phitsanulok.