Daily News- January 06 - 2002- Sunday

  • Thai Third Army cracks down on traffickers
  • Yunnan Police Seize 672.9 Kg of Heroin
  • Thai furniture importers may lead rally
  • Six-man gang staged 20 robberies led by Myanmar

  • Thai Third Army cracks down on traffickers

    The Bangkokpost
    By Subin Khuenkaew

    The Third Army Region's operation against drug trafficking at Doi Wawi in Chiang Rai's Mae Suai district had lessened the United Wa State Army's (UWSA) influence on local people, the region's commander, Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkhasingh, said.

    The cavalry officer said the operation, launched early this month and codenamed Pha Muang 1, was aimed at eliminating the influence of the UWSA, which used Doi Wawi as a major trafficking route in the upper North.

    ``The UWSA rest their goods here before moving them down to the plateau,'' Lt-Gen Udomchai said.He said the Third Army's top priority was to stop drug traffickers using the area and to re-establish state power which had diminished during the past several years. He said the Third Army had found six routes used by traffickers to transport drugs across the border from Burma.

    Lt-Gen Udomchai said the area's terrain made it hard for local authorities to keep traffickers in check. Doi Wawi is rugged, mountainous terrain, stretching across the border to UWSA-controlled area in Burma, with 18-20km in Mae Suai and Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district. The area is populated with 20,000-25,000 people, mostly Chinese Haw and other hilltribes. The commander said local people were delighted with the army's operation and admitted many of them had come under the influence of the UWSA because Doi Wawi had been neglected by local officials.

    ``We have to move our forces in to help local officials in securing the area from being exploited by armed militia from outside,'' said Lt-Gen Udomchai. He said the operation, which involved 1,500 troops supported by border patrol police, would be extended for a few weeks.

    Col Samroeng Sivadamrong, the Pha Muang Task Force deputy commander supervising the operation, said that before the Third Army launched its operation, 40-50 UWSA soldiers had been seen by local villagers providing protection to drug caravans crossing the border.

    ``They [the UWSA soldiers] have moved back to the border area while our men have tried to circle them,'' he said.Col Samroeng said the operation was necessary otherwise the army's campaign against drug trafficking along the northern border would be ineffective.

    `People in the area are quite indifferent to what has been going on for a long time. The situation had turned much worse since the area had been neglected by local officials, allowing drug traffickers to roam freely in the area,'' Col Samroeng said. He said the campaign against illegal drugs would be futile unless the government could win the support of people living along the border. ``We have to do our best to win their hearts in our fight against drugs,'' he said.

    During the operation, the task force has so far apprehended 30 suspected drug traffickers and seized a number of unlicensed guns and about 120,000 methamphetamine pills. A Thai soldier was injured during a clash with armed militia.

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    Yunnan Police Seize 672.9 Kg of Heroin

    KUNMING, January 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Police in southwest China's Yunnan Province have seized 672.9 kilograms of heroin, and confiscated nearly two million HK dollars (251,400 U.S. dollars) along with 2.65 million yuan (nearly 320,000 U.S. dollars) while smashing a cross-border drug trafficking operation. It is the largest case of its kind ever recorded in Asia, according to Minister of Public Security Jia Chunwang.

    Police officers of Luoping County, under the jurisdiction of the city of Qujing, said that they detected 651 blocks of heroin inside two trunks transporting timber from Myanmar on November 8, 2001. A manhunt finally led to the arrest of 20 suspects and the confiscation of 1.9 million yuan in illicit money.

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    Thai furniture importers may lead rally

    The Bangkokpost
    By Supamart Kasem

    A group of furniture importers has threatened to lead a protest next week by about 1,000 local and Burmese businessmen against a ban on furniture imports.

    About 100 importers led by Anan Imsombat sent a letter to Third Army commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkhasing yesterday demanding the lifting of the furniture import ban imposed in Tak's four border districts.

    After receiving the letter, acting 13th Infantry Regiment Task Force commander Col Wannawasit Wongthai said the task force had no power to revoke the army ban.However, it would notify Lt-Gen Udomchai of the demand.

    Mr Anan said the group wanted an answer by Thursday or 1,000 importers, sawmilling and furniture factory operators would hold an indefinite protest until their demand was met.

    The Third Army, citing security concerns, imposed a ban on furniture imports in Phop Phra in May last year and in Tak's remaining border districts on Nov 7 last year. Mr Anan said the import ban had badly affected businessmen who invested more than 100 million baht and paid advance tariffs. Tax income from furniture imports in Tak dropped to 15 million baht last year from 160-200 million baht the previous year.

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    Six-man gang staged 20 robberies led by Myanmar

    by Danny Ooi in PENANG
    The New Straits Times Press

    Balik Pulau Police have busted a six-man robbery gang led by a Myanmar national.South-west District police chief Superintendent Mazlan Ayob said preliminary checks showed the gang had used imitation pistols in about 20 robberies in Balik Pulau, Georgetown and some parts of mainland Penang.

    He said the gang was busted after police picked up six men, including a Myanmar national, at a house in Georgetown on Dec 27.The suspects, all in their 20s, are being remanded for a week to facilitate further investigations, Mazlan told reporters after giving away cheques totalling RM11,510 to four widows of policemen here who were killed in the line of duty.

    Mazlan also said the police are looking for one, Idris Johar, to help in their investigations into the murder of a farmer, Hashim Harun, 74, in Balik Pulau two months ago.Also known as Mat Nush, his last known address was 434, Mukim Tiga, Sungai Pinang.In the incident, a group of robbers covered Hashim's face with a rice sack after they broke into his house about 2am on Nov 19. He later died from suffocation.

    Police are also looking for two men - S. Jegathesan or Janu, 20, whose last known address was 34, Jalan 7, Cangkat Minden, Gelugor and N. Jivaneswaran or Jiva, 20, of 1-1-11, Jalan Pekaka in Sungai Dua.The duo are being sought for a spate of wayside armed robberies in Telok Bahang and Balik Pulau over the past few months.

    Those with information on the whereabouts of any of the men, should contact the Balik Pulau Police criminal investigations department at 04-8669222 or the nearest police station.

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