Yangon — A joint task force, including the Thai military and police, seized a large cache of Chinese-made weapons, which are believed to be destined for Myanmar, on Tuesday morning.
AK47 assault rifles, machine guns, anti-tank mines, grenades and ammunition were among the items seized in a joint raid on a house in Mae Tao in Mae Sot District on the Thai side of the border.
Two Thai nationals were arrested and six suspects from Myanmar were arrested at the Mae La refugee camp around 65 km from Mae Sot. Four are ethnic Karen and two are ethnic Rakhine.
“They are not the weapons currently used by the AA [Arakan Army]. The weapons manufactured by the Wa [United Wa State Army] and the KIA [Kachin Independence Army] are not up to much. They can’t fire on automatic. The seized weapons are original and Chinese-made,” a source from an ethnic armed organization based on the border told The Irrawaddy.
He said a black market has emerged in Mae Sot for weapons to meet the demand of armed groups in Myanmar. Individual dealers make huge profits in the business, the source added.
An AK47 costs around 100,000 baht (4.5 million kyats) and a machine gun costs approximately 300,000 baht (13.5 million kyats). The value of the seizures is around 30 million baht (1.35 billion kyats), according to the source.
“Usually weapons are smuggled to Indian rebels based on the border with Myanmar and the AA as they pay good prices,” he said. There are several rebel organizations in Assam and Meitei fighting the Indian government from bases along the border.
Former freelance photographer John San Linn and his wife were detained in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, in December 2017, after police found more than 1,000 bullets at their home in Myawaddy on the Thai border, according to the police.
Officers then searched the KIA’s liaison office in Myitkyina.