Myan­mar seizes heroin haul worth $4.7m: po­lice

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS -

Myan­mar has seized 370 kilo­grammes (815 pounds) of heroin worth $4.7 mil­lion dur­ing a raid in the northeast, po­lice said, the lat­est big bust in the world's sec­ond-largest opium pro­ducer af­ter Afghanistan.

Weak rule of law and con­flict-rid­dled bor­der ar­eas al­low in­dus­trial-size trade in heroin, pills and crys­tal metham­phetamine -- known as ice -- to flour­ish, even as mas­sive drug seizures rou­tinely grab head­lines.

The most re­cent nar­cotics batch was dis­cov­ered in a truck out­side a monastery near the Shan state cap­i­tal Taung­gyi on Satur­day night, po­lice said in a state­ment.

Two men were ar­rested af­ter of­fi­cers found them with "62 bags con­tain­ing 170kg of white heroin and 200kg of brown heroin", it said, re­fer­ring to colours in­di­cat­ing lev­els of pu­rity.

The bust was worth a lit­tle more than 7 bil­lion ky­ats, or nearly $4.7 mil­lion. Au­thor­i­ties in the area could not be reached for ad­di­tional com­ment. Though still vast, the cul­ti­va­tion of opium -- the base in­gre­di­ent for heroin -- has de­clined in Myan­mar as de­mand for metham­phetamine surges.

In 2017, 41,000 hectares (101,300 acres) of land was be­ing used to grow pop­pies com­pared to 55,000 hectares in 2015, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

In the 1970s and 1980s, Myan­mar was the leader in global opium pro­duc­tion in the "Golden Tri­an­gle" -- a re­gion span­ning bor­ders of Myan­mar, Thai­land and Laos -- be­fore Afghan farm­ers started to dom­i­nate the mar­ket.

Many of the coun­try's drug gangs have in re­cent years switched to meth, feed­ing the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity across the Asia-Pa­cific for crys­tallised "ice" and the lower-grade caf­feine-laced "yaba" pills.

Pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals to make meth are flood­ing into the coun­try from In­dia and China, fu­elling the multi-bil­lion-dol­lar trade that has sky­rock­eted to what the UNODC calls "alarm­ing" lev­els.

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