Burmese police mark anti-drugs day with bonfires

Burmese police mark anti-drugs day with bonfires

Narcotics with a street value of over US$50 million were destroyed in a series of drug-burning ceremonies in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi to mark the International Day against Drug Trafficking and Abuse on 26 June.

In Rangoon yesterday, regional government officials observed the incineration of a nearly $20mn worth of drugs, including 0.4kg of heroin; 4.1mn amphetamine pills; 143kg of methamphetamine; 213kg of kratom leaves; 90ml of kratom resin; 27 tranquiliser pills; and other drugs at a ceremony in Hlaing Tharyar Township in the western suburbs of the city.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, Rangoon police say they conducted 718 drug-related busts and arrests.

According to the regional police chief, a haul of $133mn worth of drugs found last year in an abandoned truck in a Zaykabar company compound in Rangoon was not included in the burning as the case is still under investigation.

Zaykabar is a major Burmese corporation with interests in telecommunications and construction. It is owned and chaired by upper house MP Khin Shwe of the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. The firm has faced multiple accusations of forceful land-grabbing, and its chairman is blacklisted by the US.

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The Zaykabar case is one of 243 cases where drugs are being held pending investigations and trials, officials say.

Speaking at a drug-burning ceremony in Monywa, the regional capital of Sagaing Division, which has been the scene of some recent drug activity, the Sagaing chief minister on Sunday said police had filed 506 drug-related cases during the last fiscal year, bringing to trial 927 suspects.

He said 323 suspects had been apprehended in his region since the nationwide 100-day programme was announced.

Meanwhile, the Burmese military-owned Myawady News reported that 4 billion kyat ($3.4mn) worth of narcotics was seized in the southern Shan State town of Kalaw on Friday.

According to the Myawady report, military and police personnel set up a checkpoint to search vehicles travelling on the Taunggyi Highway when they found three persons travelling in a vehicle with bags containing one million amphetamine pills.

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