Posted on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | 5h24
Updated 1 hour and 14 minutes ago
BANGKOK (AP) – Thai customs officials made their biggest heroin seizure this year, around 315 kilograms (700 pounds) worth up to 944 million baht ($ 29 million), bringing the total confiscated so far this year at 2 tonnes, officials said. Thursday.
They did not say where the drugs came from, but the seizure comes as production could increase in neighboring Myanmar, the region’s main supplier of illicit drugs, due to severe instability following the overthrow by the army of a government elected in February.
Customs Department Director General Patchara Anuntasilpa said 134 packets of shrink-wrapped heroin, each weighing about 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds), were concealed in a shipment of acrylic paint bound for the United States. ‘Australia.
He said the drug was discovered on Monday because the heroin packages were placed in square plastic containers that stood out on the x-rays of the paint buckets.
The arrest of a suspect made it possible to identify the person who hired him, who fled to Laos, said Wichai Chaimongkol, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board.
The Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, was a major opium-producing area and was home to many laboratories that converted it into heroin.
Thailand has almost completely phased out opium cultivation and heroin production, which continues in Myanmar, whose border areas have historically been poorly guarded. Heroin and other drugs are often smuggled from Laos to Thailand, where much of it is transhipped to overseas destinations such as Australia.
Over the past two decades, readily manufactured methamphetamines have supplanted opium and heroin to become the dominant illegal drug in the region, both for domestic consumption and for export.
“While the demand for opiates continues to decline as the region’s synthetic drug market grows and diversifies, the organized crime groups that traffic heroin continue to generate substantial profits, both manufacturing and selling. heroin trafficking accounts for the vast majority of this value ”, the United Nations Office on Drugs. and Crime said in its annual Myanmar Opium Survey, released in January.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank noted in a report in March that statistics show “Australia’s drug trade is significant and growing.”
“Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, methamphetamine and heroin use has increased by up to 17% year over year. Falling prices in South East Asia are expected to continue to increase this number, while drug prices and purity in Australia remain relatively stable, ”the report said.
The UN drug agency has warned that political unrest in Myanmar could lead to an expansion of the illegal drug trade.
He said three factors could trigger an upsurge: a general collapse in good governance, a collapse of markets for normal cultures and a desire by ethnic rebel militias, some of which have long-standing links to drug trafficking, raise income to support their activities during political uncertainty.