November18: Four drug mules affiliated to the United Wa State Army (UWSA) were apprehended after a reliable tip-off in a Chiang Rai supermarket, yesterday, Nov17, with 1 million yah-bah (methamphetamine) tablets.
The four suspects, Messrs Thitiwat Porntep, from Nongkai Province, Pongsak Klongchai thong, , from Ubonratchathani and two hill tribesmen, Niraket Wiriya Pattanasiri, , from Chiangrai, and Konchan Pradit Roongroj, , from Tak Province arrived at the Chiang Rai Lotus Supermarket parking lot at 3pm in a Isuzu pickup. The police team sent to apprehend them, led by Pol.Col. Tanomsak Yospan, Maesai Police Superintendent, approached as soon as they stopped, but the alert suspects immediately attempted to escape into the nearby supermarket. The police pursued the four and arrested them, much to the surprise of local shoppers. Taking them back to their pickup, police searched it and found 1.1 million yah-bah tablets witha street price of Bt400 million hidden in plastic box, covered by several boxes of Chinese fruit, the smell of which effectively diguised the distinctive smell of the drugs.
Police told press that this apprehended drugs shipment was organised by Mong hilltribesmen, part of a UWSA contingent operating across the Thai-Burmese border into Maesai and Tak Province and had been brought from warehouse in Burma’s Tah Ki Lek Province and smugged through the river between the two countries, intended to be sold in Issan.
The UWSA, one of the Burmese ethnic rebel armies currently gearing up for conflict with the Burmese military, normally exists largely by the production of drugs such as heroin, yah-bah and crystal meth. However, with renewed fighting expected incipiently, they are stepping up the production and trafficking of drugs to buy arms to fight against the Burmese Army.