BANGKOK (AP) – Police in Southeast Asian Laos have made one of the largest drug seizures in Asia, seizing more than 55.6 million methamphetamine pills in a single raid. The drugs were found in the northern province of Bokeo, state newspaper Vientiane Times reported Thursday.
The drugs were found in bags on Wednesday in a house raided by police after earlier discovering 10 million tablets hidden in beer crates on a truck en route to the capital, Vientiane, the newspaper said in a report in line. Information from the truck driver drove them to the house, where 65 crystal bags of methamphetamine, also known as ice, were also found, he said. Lao National Radio said they weighed a total of 1,537 kilograms (3,380 pounds).
Two men are said to be under arrest. The newspaper said the Lao Brewery Company, which owns the crates, issued a statement denying any involvement in drug trafficking. “We are deeply disappointed that our funds have been used to cover illegal activities,” he said, quoting the statement.
Police found 6 million amphetamine tablets hidden in a van crossing the province on Monday, the newspaper said. Bokeo borders Thailand and Myanmar and is part of the Golden Triangle, a remote geographic area with a long history of illegal drug production and smuggling.
“The 55.6 million methamphetamine tablets and 1.5 tonnes of crystal meth seized in Bokeo, Laos, is about three times the tablets and one-third of the crystal seized last year nationwide. And that after other major seizures there in recent days – it’s staggering, ”said Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for Southeast Asia for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
In a report released in June, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said production and trafficking of synthetic drugs in East and Southeast Asia had increased despite the coronavirus pandemic. He said the criminal syndicates have adapted and capitalized on the situation.
“It may seem counterintuitive, but the governance and security issues across the Mekong River in Shan are perfect for organized crime to produce and transport large volumes,” said UNODC’s Jeremy Douglas.
Laos is well known as a transit point for drugs from Myanmar, a major producer of methamphetamine, which goes to Thailand, Vietnam and beyond. Laos is a poor, sparsely populated landlocked country with a reputation for corruption that can facilitate smuggling. The non-governmental group Transparency International ranked it 137th out of 170 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks countries according to their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector.
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