FB pix lead to weed arrest

Illegal enterprise: One of the pictures circulating online of the marijuana field in Ngunzun township near Mandalay. — AFP

Yangon: Myanmar police have arrested one American and two locals after photos on Facebook led them to a huge plantation of towering marijuana plants near Mandalay.

Pictures of the fields of weed started circulating on the platform last week – a rare sight online in a country where police photos of seized heroin and methamphetamine are far more common.

Police raided the 8ha site in Ngunzun township on Monday to find nearly 350,000 marijuana plants – some up to two metres tall – 380kg of seeds and 270kg of marijuana, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) announced on Wednesday.

A released photo showed arrested US citizen John Fredric Todoroki, 63, standing alongside Myanmar nationals Shein Latt, 37, and Ma Shun Le Myat Noe, 23.

Another man, 49-year-old Alexander Skemp Todoroki, was still “at large”, the CCDAC said.Police confirmed that he is also American.

The detainees have been charged under the Anti-Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substances Law, though it remains unclear what penalties they will face if they are found guilty.

“We didn’t know this (marijuana plantation) existed,” one local police officer said, asking not to be named.

“We only found out when we were tipped off about it.”

Seizures of heroin, pills and crystal meth by authorities are more common in Myanmar, where weak rule of law and conflict-riddled border areas allow for the industrial-scale production of harder drugs.

Reaction on Facebook was swift, with some offering high praise for the arrests.

Others questioned how the pot growers had been able to get away with it for so


“How could the plants have grown so big without you (the police) allowing it?” Facebook user Kg Zoe Law commented.

But not everyone’s nose was put out of joint by the agronomists’ antics.

“Let me know where it’ll be burned so I can get in position,” San Yu Ko Ko pleaded. — AFP

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