8 dead in Thailand drug smuggling shootout

July 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM

MAE SAI, Thailand, July 16 (UPI) -- Eight alleged drug traffickers are dead following a shootout with soldiers in Thailand near the border with Myanmar, military officials said Monday.

A team of more than 50 soldiers and police patrolled the forests in Wiang Phang Kham in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district after the army received reports of armed men attempting to smuggle illegal drugs from a "neighboring country," the 3rd Army Pha Muang Task Force commander, Somsak Nilbanjerdkul said.

The team saw about a dozen armed people walking in a line through the forest and surrounded them. The alleged smugglers refused to surrender and a firefight broke out, resulting in the deaths of eight of the men, the Bangkok Post reported. No soldiers were injured in the incident, Somsak said.

Investigators found nine bags containing 550,000 methamphetamine pills and 154.3 pounds of crystal methamphetamine on the dead men, national police chief Priewpan Damapong said.

A trail of blood was also found leading toward the border, the Post reported.

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