Monday, September 10, 2012

Burma’s drug war not strong enough: Thai politician

Monday, 10 September 2012 15:25 Mizzima News

A senior Thai politician says Burma’s government is not doing enough to combat the drug flow into Thailand.

Thai police seized 3.3 million amphetamine tablets in Bangkok last week, the largest drug bust ever, said officials.

“They (the pills) were produced inside Myanmar by the Wa ethnic group,” said Chalerm Yubamrung, a deputy prime minister in charge of combating drugs.

The Wa army controls an autonomous region in northern Shan state, bordering China and Laos, and have a strong army that analysts say is funded by drug money.

Notorious for their isolation and fierce tribal loyalty, drug barons in the area are believed to have turned from opium to amphetamine production over recent years, say analysts.

"We have to be straightforward otherwise we cannot solve the drugs problem... I will ask China to exert its influence on Myanmar,” Chalerm said.

Thailand's Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said nearly 360,000 people were arrested on drugs charges over the last year, while 72.5 million amphetamine pills have been seized in that period.

Burma recently warned the country faces a deepening drug crisis after a surge in illegal drugs seized by the government.

The Wa army has long been known as the most powerful ethnic army in Burma. It is a major player in the opium, heroin and illegal amphetamine drug trade and is responsible for the bulk of the narcotics shipped to China and Thailand and points beyond.

The United States government labeled the UWSA as a narcotic trafficking organization on May 29, 2003.

The UWSA defied the former military regime’s demand to disarm and participate in the 2010 elections, and instead proposed to declare the territory under its control as a special autonomous region.

According to 2008 Constitution, six townships are designated as a Wa Self-Administered Division.

A Jane's report in December 2008 said that the UWSA had turned to arms production to supplement its income from drug trafficking and had started a small arms production line for AK 47s.

The UWSA is the military wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and was formed after the collapse of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1989. The working language of UWSA is Chinese. UWSA announced its territory as Wa State Government Special Administrative Region in January, 2009. 

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