Myan­mar seizes drugs and equip­ment worth $7 mn in lab raid

and equip­ment worth $7 mn in lab raid

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Myan­mar troops seized $7 mil­lion worth of nar­cotics, pre­cur­sors and equip­ment in a raid on drug labs in the restive north, the army said 19 Fe­bru­ary, as it con­tin­ues a war against eth­nic rebels ac­cused of prof­it­ing from the drug trade.

Sol­diers and lo­cal of­fi­cials found 259 kilo­grammes (571 pounds) of crys­tal metham­phetamine and 120 kg of opium in a sweep of the il­licit drugs fac­tory spread across 34 build­ings near Lwalkhan, a vil­lage in war-hit Shan state near the Chi­nese bor­der.

The army state­ment, posted on the com­man­der-in-chief's Face­book page, also listed in rare de­tail the seized drug-pro­duc­ing equip­ment and pre­cur­sors, in­clud­ing hun­dreds of bar­rels of acid and diesel, 750 bags of caus­tic soda, 22 freez­ers, 12 gen­er­a­tors and huge caches of caf­feine and other chem­i­cals.

"The Tat­madaw (mil­i­tary) seized the drugs in the raid and co­op­er­ated with the drug en­force­ment po­lice team. The le­gal process is still on­go­ing," a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer from the anti-drug depart­ment told AFP on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

The bust took place in Kutkai town­ship, where a record seizure last month brought in 30 mil­lion meth pills, two tonnes of "ice" -- crys­tal meth -- and heroin, with an es­ti­mated com­bined value of $54 mil­lion.

The raids come as the mil­i­tary con­tin­ues its sea­sonal of­fen­sive against eth­nic mi­nor­ity armed groups in the law­less bor­der ar­eas.

Last week alone, clashes be­tween the army and rebels in Kutkai and neigh­bour­ing Hseni town­ship dis­placed some 870 civil­ians, ac­cord­ing to the UN's Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA).

Myan­mar's con­flict-rid­dled north­east is a hub for Asia's meth pro­duc­ers, who pump out nar­cotics that are show­ered across South­east Asia and be­yond.

Drugs traf­fick­ing fu­els much of the fight­ing be­tween the army and the eth­nic rebels -- both of whom are ac­cused of prof­it­ing from the il­licit trade.

Myan­mar is the sec­ond-largest opium pro­ducer in the world af­ter Afghanistan, al­though a surge in de­mand for meth has caused a slump in poppy cul­ti­va­tion in re­cent years.

Rights groups ac­cuse the mil­i­tary and armed groups of extrajudicial killings, tor­ture and the re­cruit­ment of child sol­diers.

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