The Irrawaddy

Yangon Court Charges 10 Over 2015 Drug Bust

YANGON — The Yangon North District Court on Thursday charged 10 suspects including Min Oo Khaing, owner of Kaladan Delta Development (KDD), in connection with what was at the time a record drug bust in Yangon’s Mingaladon Township three years ago.

Min Oo Khaing is the primary suspect in a drug bust on July 26, 2015, in which police found nearly 27 million methamphetamine tablets worth an estimated 133 billion kyats ($8.87 million) in the back of an abandoned truck in the Mingaladon industrial zone.

Most of the other suspects worked for KDD, according to their relatives.

One of the suspects, Tun Kyaw Zan, told reporters that he had nothing to do with the drugs. He and six other suspects charged on Thursday were sentenced to 48 years in prison in June by the Yangon East District Court in connection with drug busts in East Dagon and North Dagon townships.

Min Oo Khaing was not convicted for those busts, though police and court officials said that their investigation into his activities led to the seizures. In follow-up raids tied to the drug bust in Mingaladon, police seized 1.5 million stimulant tablets from a house in North Dagon Township on Sept. 3, 2015.

Police seized another 2 million stimulant tablets and 500 bottles of phensedyl cough syrup — an addictive substance known to be used recreationally — from a warehouse in East Dagon Township on Sept. 21.

Nearly 4 million stimulant tablets and 350 grams of crystal methamphetamine were seized at a house in East Dagon Township on Sept. 29.

Min Oo Khaing surrendered to an anti-narcotics unit of the Myanmar police force in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on Sept. 15 and extradited to Yangon.

Ma Win Nyein Khaing, who was also charged on Thursday, was previously sentenced by the Yangon East District Court to 32 years in prison; another suspect, Cho Cho Win, was acquitted.

The brother of Than Shwe, who was sentenced to 48 years in prison, said his brother had nothing to do with the drugs.

“My brother is just a ferry driver [for KDD]. He only worked there for nearly two months. He quit because the company refused to give him a raise. Police arrested him at our house,” he said.

The men convicted by the Yangon East District Court had pleaded not guilty and have appealed. Their relatives said the sentences were not fair and that the main perpetrators were still at large.

The trial in the Mingaladon case at the Yangon North District Court starts on Aug. 15 with witness testimony.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.