Methamphetamine Precursor Chemicals Seized at Thai Border

By Kyaw Kha 19 February 2015

RANGOON — Chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine with a market value of more than 600 million kyats (US$582,000) were seized by authorities at the Shan State border town of Tachilek, the township police anti-drug squad announced on Wednesday.

A routine patrol on Monday evening by local police and militia troops uncovered 164 bags of a controlled substance together weighing a total of 8,150 kilograms, hidden in bushes on the banks of the Mekong River near Pala village on the Thai-Burma border. Their owner is still at large.

“The seizure is the largest amount so far this year,” said Aung Kyaw Soe, a member of the township anti-drug squad. “The chemicals are used in making methamphetamine tablets. For the time being, we still don’t know the owner, but we are taking measures to find and arrest him.”

Authorities have ramped up anti-drug campaigns on the Thai-Burma border in the last year. In July 2014, the Tachileik Township anti-drug squad seized more than US$2.3 million worth of opium along with several automatic weapons during the search of a pickup truck passing through Pankaw village.

While there have been frequent seizures of illicit drugs and weapons, observers have criticized a relative lack of arrests and convictions in connection with trafficking seizures.

Burma is Southeast Asia’s largest producer of synthetic drugs. An Aug. 2014 statement by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned that the escalation of drug-related crime in Burma could undermine the country’s future development and stability.

Despite the Burmese government’s commitment to fight illicit drugs in cooperation with international agencies, the UNODC said that drug trafficking remained rife within the Golden Triangle region on the border of Thailand, Laos and Burma.