Sea of meth as Myanmar army smashes three drug labs

KAWANGHKA, MYANMAR (AFP) – Sacks of heroin and methamphetamine are laid out in endless rows in a remote Myanmar border zone during a rare raid in the heart of Southeast Asia’s infamous ‘Golden Triangle’.

The seizure in one of the world’s biggest narcotics-producing regions put three major laboratories out of business this week and hauled in 43 million meth tablets.

Record amounts of drugs continue to be churned out of the lawless forest areas by rebel groups and shadowy organised crime networks making billions of dollars each year from the trade.

Army operations around the Kutkai area of Myanmar’s Shan State found the factories producing millions of ‘yaba’ pills – cheap, caffeine-cut meth tablets – as well as heroin and the more addictive crystal meth, known as ‘ice’.

“Our soldiers are on the ground in areas of the forest the police cannot reach,” Major General Tun Tun Nyi, a spokesman for the commander-in-chief’s office, told reporters on Friday in a rare press tour to a murky zone of drug production and rebel wars.

Myanmar is under pressure to stem the deluge of drugs from its freewheeling border regions.

Shan State is part of the Golden Triangle – a rugged wedge of land cutting into Myanmar, Laos, China and Thailand that is virtually untroubled by authorities despite its prolific production.

“This is the biggest seizure of the year… the whole world is fighting drugs,” Tun Tun Nyi added.