YANGON: Myanmar and Thailand destroyed nearly US$1bil (RM3.8bil) of seized narcotics to mark World Drugs Day, as the UN said East and South-East Asia remained the world’s biggest markets for synthetic drugs and heroin.
Authorities in Myanmar said drugs worth around US$245mil (RM919mil) were crushed under a steamroller or torched in three locations including the commercial hub Yangon.
The country, which is emerging from years of military rule, has long-struggled to control illegal drug production especially in its border areas where ethnic rebel groups are still active.
The “Golden Triangle” region –covering parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar – was formerly one of the world’s top producers of opium and heroin, until the emergence of Afghanistan as a drugs production hub.
Myanmar’s eastern Shan state accounts for nearly all of the illegal poppy cultivation in the country, which remains the world’s second largest opium producer.
Much of the raw material is believed to be smuggled across the border for processing into heroin in China, which is home to the world’s largest number of addicts.
In Thailand authorities torched nearly 9.5 tonnes of drugs with a street value of nearly US$600mil (RM2.2bil).
“Around 66 million pills of methamphetamine ... 798 kilograms (1,750 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine ... heroin weighing over 418 kilograms” were among the drugs burned, according to a Public Health Ministry statement.
The ministry also said nearly 150,000 people have entered drug treatment in the last eight months.
The value of the drugs burned is twice the amount at last year’s ceremony, in a sign of the Thai junta’s tough stance on drugs.
In its annual report marking World Drugs Day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said authorities in East and South-East Asia seized 12 tonnes of heroin, the third straight increase in as many years. — AFP
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