Don’t get too tired of hearing about drug busts just yet.
Law enforcement agencies are bent on unearthing every illegal drug site they can find. Regardless of whatever drug it is, be it cannabis, cocaine, meth, heroin, or even amphetamine, These raids are just not going to stop anytime soon, expect more drug busts here, there, and anywhere illegal operations are situated. Just before October ended, the Laos Police Force made the biggest drug busts of their careers! The officers stopped a truck that, unbeknownst to them, was going to hold the contents of many headlines to come.
Laos, and drugs
Laos is a famous junction for transforming drugs to and from Myanmar. Drugs that go through this transit point end up in Vietnam, Thailand, and beyond. The country is currently ranked 137th in a 170 list of countries arranged by their perceived corruption indexes. Despite this reputation, the law enforcement agencies do their best to clamp down on illegal drugs trades and smuggling operations within the country.
Laos, a poor sparsely occupied landlocked country, has come a long way from being the third-largest illegal opium producer and having one of the highest opium addiction rates to losing that record. Now, opium production within the country is significantly down to marginal levels. However, this does not mean that the eradication efforts were completely successful, because now the country produces and smuggles an unverified amount of methamphetamine.
Every month, the officers in Laos record drug busts or drug-possession arrests. Almost every drug is prohibited in Laos. From marijuana to hemp, opium, etc. Failure to adhere to the drug regulations in the country. is followed by strict punishments. This is why a lot of people find it ironic that the country still records drug offenses. For example, a drug offender has a high chance of being sentenced to death by a firing squad for very serious offenses. Other penalties include heavy fines and up to ten years of unavoidable prison or jail sentences.
The Biggest Asian Drug Bust
The recorded amount of crystal meth and amphetamine tablets found on the drug and within the traced location is nothing short of astonishing. International law enforcement authorities have described this drug bust as one of Asia’s largest drug busts ever. Never has it been recorded that the police in Laos confiscated as many drugs like this!
In an interview after the drug bust, Jeremy Douglas, the South East Asia regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that the bust was the largest catch in the history of Asia. The confiscated meth tablets are 3 times more than the total mess of tablets confiscated throughout 2020 while the crystal meth is at least a third of the total crystal meth seized last year.
On Wednesday, October 27, a suspicious truck was flagged down by law enforcement agents around the Northern Bokep region of Laos. This area is commonly referred to as the “golden triangle” and it is famed for the drug trafficking activities that occur within the region. The police got a tip about the truck from a resident of Bokeo’s Houayxay district. The truck contained over 10 million amphetamine pills. These pills were placed inside crates from the brewery company in Laos.
Further probing showed that the beer company had no connection to the case. The last brewery company also released a statement where they expressed their disappointment at being used as a cover for illicit drug activities. The company promised to take immediate action against people misusing the company’s products and assets.
On the other hand, the 22-year old driver was arrested and taken into custody. He was then questioned and probed for over 2 hours before he later revealed that he had been contracted to transport the drugs by a 40-year old resident in the Houayxay district. The driver was cajoled to reveal the man’s residence, and the police officers went ahead to the man’s house, where they later found more missing tablets and over 60 bags of crystal meth, also called ice. The total amount of drugs that were found in the truck and the house weighed over 3300 pounds. The seized products included 1.5 tones of crystal meth and about 55 million amphetamine tablets.
Three busts in a week: what are the odds?
A week before this bust, a truck that was en route to Vientiane was found to be holding at least 10 million amphetamine pills. Two days later, the law enforcement agents confiscated about 6 million methamphetamine tablets in another area of Bokeo. The culprits, in this case, weren’t caught.
The media reported that the suspects most likely fled to Myanmar by passing through the Mekong river. Most of the suspects in this drug bust are residents of a small island on the Lao side of the Mekong River area. It is still too early to state whether or not these three-drug busts made that week are from the same smuggling organization.
Golden Triangle: The Southeast Asian Center of Drug Trafficking
Security agencies both within and outside of Asia describe this region as Southeast Asia’s major drug-producing and trafficking region.
The area is a hotbed for trafficking and drug cartels. Illegal drugs like methamphetamine, crystal meth, opioids, and other stimulants are produced here and distributed by various Asian drug cartels to countries like Japan and New Zealand.
According to Douglas, the spike in illegal drug activity in Laos can be attributed to the military coup that occurred in Myanmar in February. The chaos that followed after the coup has resulted in a widespread relocation of drug smuggling routes within the border region. The government has been doing all it can to break down the triangle with the Myanmar state of Shan. However, this has increased the insecurity in the Laos region.
The rate at which drugs are being trafficked through the Laos region is on the high side. The security measures, covenants, and restrictions in neighboring countries have worsened the state of drug trafficking not only in Laos but also south of Thailand. Police officers have to remain vigilant to crack down on these illicit activities.