Myanmar, Thailand destroy $400 million drug haul

Featured South East Asia - June 27th, 2013
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Authorities in Myanmar and Thailand have destroyed $400 million-worth of seized drugs, in an attempt to improve an image as hubs for illegal substances.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry said it incinerated around $320 million-worth of drugs, comprising some 31 million methamphetamine tablets, nearly 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of crystal meth and 125 kilograms of heroin, reports AFP.

In Myanmar, authorities burned more than 800,000 pills and a half a tonne of opium and heroin believed to be worth a total of $76 million.

Over 1.2 tonnes of speciosa – known as kratom in Thailand where it is especially sought after – were destroyed in Myanmar.

Myanmar remains the world’s second largest producer of opium – a raw ingredient for heroin – and accounts for 10% of global production, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Shan state, a province in Myanmar bordering Thailand has long been a hotbed of drug production, the proceeds of which are believed to have fueled conflict between ethnic rebels and Myanmar’s army.

“Increases in seizure and use of opiates and methamphetamine throughout Southeast Asia – and the diversification of smuggling routes – indicate the drug economy is growing,” said Jeremy Douglas of UNODC in Bangkok.