Drugs Worth US$2.5 Million Seized in Northern Shan State

By Khin Oo Tha 18 July 2016

Police are hunting for culprits in connection with the seizure of amphetamines valued at 3 billion kyats (US$2.5 million) in a village in Kyaukme Township of northern Shan State.

Acting on a report from local villagers, soldiers from the local military outpost in cooperation with police and village administrators found the drugs—totaling 682.5 kilograms of amphetamine powder and tablets—packed in sacks by a monastery compound in Chaung Kyauk Village, Kyaukme Township, on Wednesday.

This is the largest drug haul ever recorded in Kyaukme Township, which has been wracked by conflict over the last year, and whose mountainous terrain shelters several non-state armed groups, as well as units of the Burma Army, who have variously been blamed for drug trafficking.

According to local eyewitnesses, two men had unloaded the sacks from a car before leaving the scene, a township police officer told The Irrawaddy.

“Eyewitness said the two were wearing ‘military’ uniforms. But we have yet to find out more. I think they were preparing to carry drugs into [neighboring] Hsipaw Township. Maybe they abandoned those drugs near the monastery because of security checks [along the route],” said the police officer.

Ye Htun, a former Lower House lawmaker representing Hsipaw Township, said that drug trafficking is rampant across Hsipaw and Kyaukme townships. He said it was difficult to solve the drug problem in the area because “government authorities”—and not just ethnic armed groups—are involved in drug production and trafficking.

“Some armed groups are anti-drugs while some produce and supply drugs,” said Ye Htun. He stressed that local authorities and police alone would not be able to eliminate the drug problem. The situation calls for systematic action from the government, he said.