Officials in Thailand and Myanmar destroyed 25 tons of illicit drugs worth more than US$2 billion in Ayutthaya and Yangon on Friday. The drugs destruction comes as drug syndicates boost supply and find new channels to do business.
The Golden Triangle — where northern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet — has long been a hub of illicit drug trafficking. Production is now taking place on an industrial scale.
In Ayutthaya, Thai authorities marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with a mass incineration of drugs.
Black-clad police commandos guarded boxes of drugs unloaded from trucks. While bricks of heroin and bags stuffed with pink meth pills where thrown into dumpsters for incineration.
Thai anti-narcotics authorities say coronavirus travel restrictions and checkpoints had helped reduce smuggling activities, although the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said last month that the trade has continued to thrive.
Thailand’s youth ordering drugs from Golden Triangle online
Pol Lt Gen Wisanu Prasartthong-osoth, a deputy national police chief, said drug criminals were becoming creative, with the internet a growing outlet for the illicit trade.
“Our children are making the wrong decision to order narcotic drugs online. And the dealers send to them,” he said. Rising heroin use among young people is among the worrying trends.
Though opium cultivation and heroin refining have declined, methamphetamine production in Myanmar’s lawless northern regions has increased. With armed ethnic groups in business with organised crime elements. Thailand is used mainly as a conduit and distribution point.
Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative, said online drug sales represented a worrying trend. Even more an oversupply of meth was pushing prices down adding to more drug abuse. “Above all we are looking now at an increase in drug availability. Very dangerous,” Douglas said.
In Yangon, meanwhile, black plumes of smoke filled the sky as sacks full of drugs were set ablaze. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.
“Frankly speaking, Myanmar has become the transit place of narcotic drug distribution to Europe and Asia,” said Hla Wai, a Myanmar police colonel.
Thailand’s golden triangle reigns supreme
Seizures of heroin from the Golden Triangle, one of the world’s largest production areas along the Myanmar-Laos-Thai border, have been rising every year, according to Narcotics Control Board.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which says the Golden Triangle remains the world’s largest heroin producing zone. Where the drug is smuggled into Thailand through porous borders before being distributed domestically and globally.
According to the ONCB’s anti-drug operation centre, 376 kilograms of heroin was confiscated in the fiscal year 2017. However that number jumped to 941 kilograms in 2019.
Drug producers use China, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand as a base to transport shipments to other countries. The drugs are sold along the way which has caused a rise in Heroin use in Thailand.
Based on the latest World Drug Report released by the organization, an estimated 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up from 30 percent, while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders. The report also stated that cannabis was the most used substance in 2018. With about 192 million users around the world. Whereas opioids are the most harmful, as the number of deaths due to opioid-related disorders went up 71 percent over the last 10 years.