Military Nets 16-Billion-Kyat Drug Haul in Northern Shan State

By Lawi Weng 1 August 2019

The Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) recently seized a large amount of illegal drugs—and the ingredients and equipment used to produce them—from among 96 camps in Kutkai Township, in northern Shan State, according to the military.

On July 29, the Tatmadaw reported the seizure of 16-billion-kyats ($10.6 million) worth of goods in 96 small jungle camps on the east side of Kutkai Township, the largest such seizure this year.

On July 21, the Tatmadaw arrested two people in Muse in connection to a warehouse that was found to be storing a large amount of drugs, according to a report published on the website of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief.

Information gleaned from interrogations with the two arrestees led the Tatmadaw to nearby production sites, it said.

Police and Tatmadaw forces then jointly made the seizures between July 25 and July 28, in production sites about 3,000 meters (1.8 miles) from the village of Shout Haw, according to the report.

Locals and TNLA officials described Shout Haw to The Irrawaddy as a Chinese village in the southeastern portion of the jungle. The Tatmadaw report said structures there included both residential huts and huts used solely for drug production.

“While they [the military] went to … the area, they found those illegal drugs and chemicals,” Police Major General Zaw Khin Aung told The Irrawaddy.

The haul included 9,000 amphetamine pills and 790 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, alongside scores of equipment and raw materials used in the production of illegal drugs, according to the report. The entire haul will be handed over to police for processing, it said.

Zaw Khin Aung said no arrests were made during the seizures, and he does not know whether or not the military will open charges against anyone.

It isn’t the first time the Kutkai area—which has seen active and ongoing fighting between the Tatmadaw and several ethnic armed organizations, including the Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’aung National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—has seen drug busts like this. Some of the drug production—which the fighting makes difficult to police—is used to fund the fighting itself.

TNLA Brigadier General Tar Phone Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that Shout Haw Village is under the control of a local militia, adding that the area is known to be the site of large-scale drug production.

“There are even more drug factories on their bases,” he said.

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