Army, Police Raid Drug Labs in Northern Shan State

By Lawi Weng 19 February 2018

Soldiers and anti-narcotics police raided illegal narcotics labs in the Lwalkhan village area of Kutkai Township and seized amphetamines, precursor ingredients and drug-making equipment valued at 9.96 billion kyat, the Defense Ministry said yesterday.

In a report the ministry said a joint team of Army and police personnel raided four locations, turning up 34 makeshift buildings used for the production of narcotics, 12 generators, 22 freezers, 210 barrels of acid, 165 barrels of diesel, 60 barrels of gasoline, 32 boilers, 200 bottles of acid, 600 2-liter cans of acid, 750 bags of caustic soda, 150 baskets of hydrogen peroxide, 487,1000 stimulant tablets, 13 kg of stimulant powder, 43 kg of brown opium and 23 other categories of related materials worth over 9.96 billion kyat in total.

The joint team conducted its operation in the area from February 15-17, but the report did not mention any arrests or suspects, or what led to the raid.

The report said the joint team would hand the narcotics and related materials to the police in Kutkai, adding that further operations would be conducted in the area.

U Taung Htay, a police officer based in Kutkai town, said, “No one has been arrested yet. We are still working on it. We are not yet sure how we will proceed; our officers are discussing it. The anti-narcotics police have not yet come to us to press charges,” said the police officer.

He said those running the lab may have been tipped off before the raid.

“We found a lot of equipment, but they all ran away,” said U Taung Htay.

The joint team of Army and police had to trek one-and-a-half hours from outside Lwalkhan village to where the small huts had been set up in the jungle, he said.

“We will arrest them soon, but we are still investigating. We have even informed Interpol,” said U Taung Htay.

Kutkai Township in northern Shan State is the scene of ongoing fighting between the Myanmar Army and a joint force of TNLA, KIA, AA, and MNDAA fighters. Illegal opium is grown in large quantities in the area, which is also home to large-scale illegal amphetamine production.

A local militia group, Kawng Kha, is also based in the Kutkai area. The TNLA reported that Lwalkhan village is under the control of the Kawng Kha.