$360k Drug Bust in Pa-O Territory, Shan State

By Kyaw Myo Tun 5 February 2015

RANGOON — Anti-narcotics police seized a major drug haul in the Pa-O self-administered zone of eastern Burma on Tuesday, the fifth such operation since the start of the year.

During a raid on a house in Nan Hta village, located in the ethnic Pa-O territory in Shan State, police hauled in more than 360 million kyats (US$360,000) worth of raw opium, morphine and an array of materials typically used to refine opium.

“We seized the raw opium from the top floor of the house, and the morphine was buried in the ground under the lower floor. Materials used for refining opium were found in a cave about 50 yards from the house,” said Officer Kyaw Min Tun of Pinlaung Township’s Anti-Narcotics Squad No. 26.

The officer said that the owner of the house has been arrested and two of his accomplices fled the scene and remain at large.

The raid was the fifth and largest in the township this year, while a total of 88 similar operations were carried out in 2014, he added.

Police Chief Myint Thein said two refineries were found and shut down just outside the township in early 2014, but the effort to eradicate drugs in the area is ongoing.

Burma is the world’s second biggest opium producer after Afghanistan, yielding 670 metric tons with a wholesale value of around US$340 million in 2014, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). A total of 57,600 hectares of land were used to cultivate opium, much of which is located in ethnic minority areas, such as the Pa-O self-administered zone.

The UNODC warned late last year that drug use among communities in opium-producing areas has more than doubled since 2012.