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Thailand and Myanmar: burned seized drugs worth $2 billion

Thailand and Myanmar destroyed 25 tonnes of illicit drugs collectively worth more than $2 billion on Friday. However, it has been declared that the tide of drugs was growing as organised crime gangs boost supply and find new channels to do business very frequently.

Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle - where northern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet - has long been a hub of illicit drug trafficking. The massive production is now on an industrial scale.

In Ayutthaya, in the northern part of Bangkok, Thai authorities marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with mass incineration of drugs.

Specifically, Black-clad police commandos guarded stacks of boxes of drugs unloaded from trucks, and heroin bricks and bags stuffed with pink methamphetamine pills were thrown into dumpsters for incineration.

Image credit APA

Thai counter-narcotics chiefs also explained the importance of the coronavirus travel restrictions and checkpoints, which had helped reduce smuggling activities – even though the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says the trade has thrived.

Wisanu Prasarthong-osoth, a deputy national police chief, explained that drugs criminals were becoming creative.

“Our children are making the wrong decision to order narcotic drugs online. And the dealers send to them,” he admitted.

Even though opium cultivation and heroin refining has declined, methamphetamine production in Myanmar’s lawless northern regions has increased, with armed ethnic groups in business with organised crime elements.

A firefighter walks by the burning drugs during a destruction ceremony to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Yangon, Myanmar. Image credit Reuters, Stringer

Worldwide, Thailand is mainly exploited as a conduit and distribution point.

UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas announced that online drug sales were a significantly worrying trend, and a methamphetamine oversupply was pushing the prices down.

“We are looking now at an increase in drug availability. Extremely dangerous,” Douglas added.


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