A police major was shot dead trying to stop drug smugglers who sped through a checkpoint with 4 million methamphetamine pills in their pickup in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district late on Wednesday night.
The slain officer was Pol Maj Pibulpan Sukhumnont, 48, of Fang police station.
Police and soldiers had earlier set up checkpoints along a road near the border in Mae Ai district to prevent drug smuggling.
Some men travelling in a black Toyota pickup approached a checkpoint in Ban Pong Hai village of tambon Mae Sao. They refused to stop when signalled and sped off down the road.
In the subsequent pursuit, Pol Maj Sukhumnont’s vehicle overtook the fleeing truck and stopped ahead of it to block the road.
A man in the pickup opened fire at the police vehicle. A bullet hit Pol Maj Sukhumnont, who later succumbed to his wound at Mae Ai Hospital.
Suspects’ truck again sped off. The pursuers briefly caught up with it again at Ban Ja To village in tambon Ban Luang, another 10 kilometres down the road.
This time, police shot at the pickup’s tyres and it was shortly afterwards found abandoned on a road lined with thick forest.
There was no sign of the smugglers, but police found 21 sacks containing about 4 million meth pills in total dumped in the forest nearby.
Security forces are hunting for the smugglers.