Myanmar seizes drugs, equipment worth $27 million: Military

AFP
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Mar 02, 2020, 12:31 PM(IST)

Myanmar's Soldiers Photograph:( AFP )

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They found around 18 million tablets, about 33 kilograms of heroin and 281 barrels of acids hidden in a ground pit alongside other equipment, including stoves, tablet-making machines, and vehicles.

Myanmar soldiers swooped on several illicit drug labs to seize nearly $27 million of narcotics, chemicals, and equipment, military newspaper The Myawady said Monday, the biggest bust so far this year.

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Photos showed hundreds of barrels, bags and other containers recovered in the operation in what is believed to be the world's largest methamphetamine producing nation.

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Troops raided several sites over the weekend in Kutkai township of eastern Shan state after receiving a tip-off, the newspaper said.

They found around 18 million tablets, about 33 kilograms of heroin and 281 barrels of acids hidden in a ground pit alongside other equipment, including stoves, tablet-making machines, and vehicles.

"It’s the biggest seizure this year," a police officer from the anti-drugs department told AFP, asking not to be named.

Myanmar's multi-billion dollar drug industry is centred in Shan in the country's east, where the poppy-covered hills also hide illicit production labs.

High-grade crystal meth -- often known as ice -- is smuggled out of the country to lucrative markets as far away as Seoul, Tokyo or Sydney.

Meanwhile, there is a booming regional market for lower quality tablets known as yaba that have also become increasingly popular within Myanmar.

A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says that Southeast Asia's crime gangs are netting more than $60 billion a year -- a conservative estimate, according to experts -- thanks to a sophisticated smuggling and money-laundering operation.

Myanmar seized an estimated $374 million worth of drugs in 2019, according to figures by the anti-drugs department.

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