Govt Touts Early Success of New Drug Reporting Department

By San Yamin Aung 18 July 2018

YANGON — The Home Affairs Ministry has opened 22 drugs cases based on tipoffs since the government launched the Drug Abuse Reporting Department last month to encourage the public to inform on dealers, the President’s Office announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the office said the government has stepped up its anti-narcotics efforts with the public’s help. It said that as of Saturday it had received tips on four cases in Yangon and the others from Mandalay, Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions and Kachin and Shan states.

It said the ministry has arrested a total of 34 suspects in the cases and seized drugs, including 95 grams of heroin, 2,600 grams of raw opium, 10 grams of processed opium and about 9,300 tablets of illicit stimulants.

President U Win Myint announced the creation of the Drug Abuse Reporting Department on June 26 at a ceremony to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Naypyitaw. His office provided telephone and fax numbers and an email address on its Facebook page for the public to file reports.

The president also called on the public to report information related to the abuse of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances, ensuring informants that their identities would be protected and offering them rewards.

“Indeed, what we want are big cases like gangs and drug lords. So far we haven’t received such cases,” said U Zaw Htay, a spokesman for the President’s Office.

He said the size of the cash rewards promised by the president would be based on a proportion of the value of the illicit assets seized in each case, as determined by the Home Affairs Ministry, and would be tax exempt.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Myanmar government launched a new national drug control policy in February aimed at contributing to safe, secure and healthy communities by addressing all aspects of the drug problem.

In May, the UNODC said illicit drug production was still rampant in Myanmar’s conflict-torn regions, with supplies being smuggled to nearby countries but also reaching as far as Australia.