Drugs worth more than three billion kyat (US$3 million) have been seized from traffickers by the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State’s Muse district, according to the group.
TNLA spokesperson Mong Aik Kyaw told DVB the group’s anti-narcotics team found a large quantity of heroin and amphetamine (ya-ba) pills on a truck that was bearing rocks, when inspections of vehicles were being made on the highway road between Mongwi and Mongton on 15 March.
“Around 20 troops from our group were carrying out drug elimination activities, when at around 10am on Sunday, they seized a large amount of heroin and ya-ba bills that were being smuggled on a rock truck. This is the largest amount of drugs that we have ever seized,” said Mong Aik Kyaw, who added that the driver was detained, while another occupant of the vehicle escaped.
“The passenger in the truck ran as we were searching it. We didn’t chase after him, as at that time we didn’t know what was in it. The driver told us that the man is the owner of the drugs, and that he is Chinese and lives in Namhkam’s Pauk Nay ward.
“The 30-year-old driver is from Sagaing Division, and is currently in the custody of our troops.”
He said 16.5 kilograms of heroin and 2.3 million ya-ba pills seized in the truck will be burnt at a ceremony marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The TNLA, led by Tar Aik Bong and Tar Bone Kyaw, are the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front, and are currently engaged in conflict against Burmese government troops in northern Shan State and the Kokang Special Region.
Although certain areas of northern Shan State were officially recognised as being under Paluang after the 2010 elections, the regions remain poor and underdeveloped. The TNLA have waged war against opium cultivation and other drugs, to combat what they see as funding for government supporters.
In 2014, the TNLA claimed that the Burma Army had attacked their troops, which were installed to carry out narcotic eradication in Namhsan, Manton and Kutkai townships – located in the state’s far north — and also in Mogok of Mandalay Division, which was within the Shan State boundaries up until the early 2000’s.
Burma’s Information Minister Ye Htut attributed attacks on the TNLA to the group’s alleged abuse of civilians, claiming that they entered government-controlled territories under the pretext of a drug eradication scheme, where they then forcibly recruited and extorted villagers.
“If they were really fighting drugs, then they should share some information with us, since we are working on the same objective,” said Ye Htut.