Meth seizures shoot up in Myan­mar’s Rakhine State

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Myan­mar po­lice have seized more than $5 mil­lion worth of metham­phetamine pills in the north of Rakhine state this month, an of­fi­cer said last week. Mil­lions of the caf­feine-laced meth tablets were in­ter­cepted in Maung­daw dis­trict, the cen­tre of an army-led crack­down that has driven more than half a mil­lion Ro­hingya Mus­lims to flee across the bor­der into Bangladesh in just two months. Myan­mar troops poured into the area in late Au­gust to launch a counter-of­fen­sive against Ro­hingya ter­ror­ists who at­tacked po­lice posts. As the re­gion reels from the refugee cri­sis, a lu­cra­tive nar­cotics trade con­tin­ues across the bor­der into Bangladesh, where there is high de­mand for the ad­dic­tive meth pills known by their Thai name "yaba" or "crazy medicine".

"We have seized 3,563,355 stim­u­lant tablets from five drugs traf­fick­ing cases start­ing from this month in Maung­daw," lo­cal anti-drugs of­fi­cer MaungMaung Yin told AFP. It was the largest monthly haul in the area since Fe­bru­ary when po­lice launched a state-wide anti-nar­cotics op­er­a­tion, he said. "We seized th­ese drugs while we were work­ing to en­force tight se­cu­rity in the area be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion," the of­fi­cer added, in ref­er­ence to the vi­o­lence that seen hun­dreds of Ro­hingya vil­lages torched. Seven eth­nic Rakhine men -- who, apart from the Ro­hingya are the other main mi­nor­ity group based in the area -have been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the traf­fick­ing, he said. State me­dia said the pills, which sell for around $1-2 each, were marked with the "WY" stamp of the eth­nic Wa drug lords who run Myan­mar's lu­cra­tive nar­cotics trade.

The heav­ily-armed Wa churn out the tablets in lab­o­ra­to­ries in Myan­mar's north­east, where they run an in­de­pen­dent state guarded by a stand­ing army. Huge amounts of drugs are smug­gled from that "Golden Triangle" zone south to Bangkok and be­yond, but a west­ward route to Bangladesh -- the gate­way to other South Asian mar­kets -- has also flour­ished. In re­cent years Bangladeshi se­cu­rity forces have seized mil­lions of meth tablets from traf­fick­ers try­ing to en­ter the Cox's Bazar area by land and sea. Ear­lier this month two Myan­mar sol­diers were caught with nearly two mil­lion yaba pills in Maung­daw.

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