Minority drug lord expands network on Thai-Myanmar border


BANGKOK, Jan 7 – The clash between Thai authorities and drug smugglers in which four suspects were killed on Sunday took place on the Thai-Myanmar border where a drug trafficking route controlled by the leader of an ethnic minority group, a senior Thai official said today.

Sukhum Opasnipat, deputy secretary general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), said the drug network, controlled by new suspected narcotics kingpin Yi Say, was strengthened after the arrest of Naw Kham, one of Thailand’s most wanted drug traffickers.

Some of Naw Kham’s followers have joined Yi Say’s network covers a number of routes in Mae Fah Luang and Chiang Dao districts of Chiang Rai province.

Mr Sukhum said Thai authorities have blocked the routes, compelling the smugglers to use public roads which leads to arrests and clashes. Sunday’s clash was reported in a village in Mae Fah Luang district.

With more smugglers joining Yi Say, his drug trafficking network has expanded rapidly along the border, particularly in Ta Chi Lek and Mae Fah Luang districts, he said, noting that the ONCB has informed the Myanmar national police chief about Yi Say’s operations

Myanmar authorities are keeping a close watch on his movement

Yi Say is on both Thailand’s and Myanmar’s wanted list of drug traffickers but it is not easy to apprehend him, he said.