American, 2 Others Held over Marijuana Plantation in Mandalay Division

By Zarni Mann 24 April 2019

MANDALAY—A U.S. citizen was among three people detained under the Anti-Narcotics Law for allegedly operating a marijuana plantation in Mandalay Division’s Myotha Industrial Park, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) said on Wednesday.

The committee said U.S. citizen John Fredric Todoroki, 63, was arrested with Ko Shane Latt, 37, and Ma Shunlae Myat Noe, 23, while another American, Alexander Skemp Todoroki, 49, was still at large.

The announcement said that the four responsible for the marijuana plantation. Three detainees were arrested with over 300,000 marijuana plants, 380 kg of marijuana seeds, formic acid, acetone, acetonitrile concort water, methonal liquid, 270.5 kg of dried marijuana and related chemicals and materials at the 20-acre plantation of III M Global Nutracetical Company, located in Myotha Industrial park of Myinchan District, Mandalay Division.

The arrest followed a report widely circulated among Burmese netizens on Facebook about the alleged marijuana plantation earlier this week.

On Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that a team of police, anti-narcotics officers and officials from the FDA went to the plantation to conduct an investigation and found hemp-like plants believed to have the same content as marijuana.

The announcement of the ministry also said that some chemicals and materials were seized and the plantation is believed to have been planted for medical usage to cure cancer.

According to the ministry, about 60 acres of land for plantation were leased from Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development Public Co.,Ltd (MMID) by U.S. citizens John Fredric, Thomas and Alexandra Skemp.

Daw Ni Ni Aye, the Director of the FDA, who went to the plantation, also told The Irrawaddy that the seized materials and the plants are under investigation by the anti-narcotics team.

“The manager there said the plantation was set up to do \research for medicinal purposes to cure cancer. For that they will need permission. Now, we found they are producing oil from the plants,” said Daw Ni Ni Aye.

“However, to do the laboratory test is out of the FDA’s hands; it has not become medicine yet, so the anti-narcotics team is handling it,” she said.

In Myanmar, the plantation of marijuana is illegal. The legality of planting hemp is unclear.