Second-day session of 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug
Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific Region
The second-day session of 24th Meeting of Heads of National
Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific Region (HONLEA), continued
at the Hotel Equatoria on 15 November,2000.
Present at the Meeting were officials of South Pacific Island
Countries Association and heads of delegations of Australia, Azerbaijan,
People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao
Special Administrative Region, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea,
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the
Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Meeting Chairman the leader of Myanmar delegation
Secretary of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control of Myanmar delegation
Secretary of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control of Myanmar Director
Gentral of the Myanmar Police Force Police Maj. Gen. Soe Win delivered a speech.
Drug Control Officer of UNDCP Mr. Lan Munro explained the
agenda of the second-day meeting.
Joint Secretary of CCDAC Pol. Col. Khan Awng reported to the
meeting on Myanmar’s national anti-narcotic drug activities with audio visual
aids. He also answered questions raised by the participants.
Heads of the delegates to the 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law
Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific Region held group-wise discussions on
illicit trafficking of heroin, consumption rate, effectiveness of anti-drug
strategic electronic systems, control of stimulant pills and trafficking of
drugs along the sea lanes.
Trafficking and Abuse In the Region
Joint Secretary of CCDAC, Myanmar
In this Working Group
discussion, I would like to introduce the subject by making m
in the following framework; –
1. Observation of trends and
operational response to counter illicit traffic
2. Reported seizures on the
decrease and the reasons behind the decrease and factors contributing to
3. Growing demand for ATS impact
upon drug abuse patterns
4. Changes in heroin trafficking
within territories and changes response measures targeted at heroin
Yesterday, colleagues from UNDCP,
Mr. Ian Munro and Mr.Yngve Danling and ICPO Liaison Officer for Southeast Asia,
Mr. Romeo Sanga briefed the meeting on regional and world trends on drug
trafficking so I shall not be delving much time on international nor regional
trends but try to depict the trafficking trends in the context of Myanmar and
its neighbouring countries or the sub region.
If we take a look at this slide of the map of
Myanmar, you will notice that Myanmar shares borders with 5 neighbouring
countries and in that, also very long borders with China, Thailand and India.
These border regions are also very rugged, mountainous and remote. I wish to
emphasize this because this is where the opium poppy cultivation is going on.
Looking at this slide, you can see the actual cultivation or high-density area
of poppy, which are all in the northeastern part of the Shan State. If we
project the area of cultivation comparing Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam
based on figures from UNDCP, we will see a chart like this that shows a
declining trend in 1998 and 1999 while in 2000, there seems to be a slight
increase. On the next slide, production of opium is also on the decreasing
trend. Figures established by the US, ODCCP and our own figures project a
slightly different picture on the chart, both on cultivation and production.
This disparity stems from the methodology of surveys, where the US figures are
based on satellite photos and potential yield, while ours are based on actual
ground surveys. We also take into account of the eradication figures, which we
do manually every year. (See Charts)
However, all the sources concur
on the declining trend although the US stated that the cause of decline is based
on bad weather while we based our assessment on the effects of crop
substitution, eradication programmes and also bad weather. These 3 slides show
the Opium Yield Surveys we undertook jointly with the US Department of
Agriculture and International Narcotics Law Enforcement of the State Department
nearly every year 1993.
Let us look into the changes in
heroin trafficking within territories and changes in the response to measures
targeted at heroin.
From the first map on
cultivation, over 300,000 hill tribe people on the border areas of China and
Thailand are engaged in opium poppy cultivation since a century ago under the
British colonialism and it has become a livelihood for them. Independence from
the British in 1948 did not decrease the problem because of insurgency all over
the country particularly in the border regions and later insurgent groups
themselves indulged in drug production in the later stages. The invasion and
entrenchment of Kuomintang’s (KMT) driven out of China into our eastern borders
in the 1950s aggravated the drug problem. These areas under the dominance of
insurgency were undeveloped and left behind the mainstream of the country due to
continuous fighting up to the late 1980s.
Only in 1989, the Wa and Kokang
group split with the BCP and made peace with the government. Subsequently
following that major turning point in the history of insurgency in Myanmar, 17
major armed insurgent groups made peace agreements with the central government
in the early 1990s. The slide shows the names of insurgent groups and their area
of dominance or later becoming special regions. The government enjoyed for the
first time access to these areas once denied and has the opportunity to
undertake development programmes to upgrade the infrastructure and uplift the
living standards of the national brethrens.
In the former years, the
government stressed law enforcement activities on drug eradication programmes
but later on saw that it needs to be coupled with crop substitution and
alternative development programmes in the long run and also sustainability from
going back to poppy cultivation. Thus, the government laid down a Strategy
designating drugs eradication as a national duty to involve participation of the
whole populace and to develop and enhance the standard of living of the national
races of the border areas so that they will be weaned gradually from poppy
cultivation and dependence on income from opium poppy.
The formation of the Ministry of
Border Areas and National Races Development Affairs in 1992 was a major
undertaking of the government to implement the abovementioned Strategy. Up to
present, the Ministry has invested over 20 billion kyats from the State budget
in development programmes in the border areas encompassing 6 million
Another cornerstone changing the
history of drugs and its trends is the unconditional surrender of Khun Sa and
his Mong Tai Army (MTA) in January 1996. You will see from the slide that the
strength, arms and ammunition surrendered was a substantial force that was
compromised or neutralised by the government in the fight against drugs.
For your information also, I have prepared this
slide to show you the conditions set down for the unconditional surrender;-
1. to unconditionally surrender
all their weapons and ammunition.
2. to abide by and in no way
deviate from the arrangement made for them by the State.
3. after the surrender not to
become involved again with narcotic drugs and its illicit trade in any way.
The dent left behind by Khun Sa
and MTA made a deep impact in the production and trafficking routes of drugs on
the Myanmar-Thai border and also changed the trends and patterns of drug
trafficking. On the other hand, national groups that entered peace arrangement
with the government drew up their own development programmes of their respective
regions to establish drug free zones. The first to establish and still
sustaining is the Eastern Shan State Special Region 4 of Mong Lar since 1997
April. Kokang Region is making all out efforts to follow suit in year 2000 with
the Wa Region promising to be free of drugs in year 2005. It cannot be denied
nor ignored on the fact that the efforts to get rid of opium poppy cultivation
and production by the ethnic races play a key role in the changing trends of
Above, I have mentioned 17 of
the major armed insurgent groups made peace with the government. However, there
had been splinter groups and remnants of SURA led by Ywet Sit, MTA group led by
Kyauk Sit Su Hlaing and WNA led by Mahar San who are still deeply involved in
drug production and trafficking on the Myanmar- Thai border near the golden
triangle area. This slide shows the mobile camps and clandestine refineries of
these groups, straddling the common border.
Myanmar has been witnessing a
decrease in the report of seizures and now let us look into the reasons behind
this or the factors contributing to decrease. These slides show the annual
seizures of opium, heroin and amphetamine type stimulants. From the annual
figures, it is quite obvious that seizures of opium and heroin have sharply
decrease since the peak year of 1997 while ATS figures show a significant
increase since the first seizure in 1996. I am not going into numbers as data on
seizures are already given in country reports.
As a comparison among countries
in the sub region, I would like to show you seizure charts based on UNDCP
figures, which I got from Mr. Munro yesterday. ( Slides ) Here also, we can see
the general trend of decreasing heroin seizures in Thailand, China and Laos
while a slight increase is seen in Hong Kong. ATS seizures on the other hand,
are rising in all countries. As an indicator, let us look at this chart, which
shows the price of heroin in Myanmar from 1996 to 2000. You will notice the
average price of heroin, which were stable around 600,000 kyats per kilo for
some years suddenly jumped to 2,000,000 kyats this year. It clearly indicates
the scarcity of heroin in the sub-region. Is it because traffickers are
stockpiling drugs to get better prices? However, if we crosscheck with Hong
Kong, from this chart it shows that the price is more or less stable for the
past 5 years. We have to assess whether Hong Kong is still the transit gateway
to international market or not.
So what are the contributing factors to decrease
of reported seizures? As far as Myanmar is concerned, the trafficking routes
have changed considerably since the surrender of Khun Sa leaving a void on the
Myanmar – Thai border that no other trafficking syndicate or organization has
been able to fill in. Another factor is the increased enforcement and
interdiction on both sides of the country that the major portion of heroin
produced is now routed through Yunan Province of China. This slide shows the
route of heroin. So it is
readily deduced that heroin produced in the clandestine refineries along the
borders are directly trafficked outside to international market resulting in the
significant drop of domestic seizures in Myanmar in the past 2-3 years. Domestic
seizures of heroin are destined for local markets and some on its way to India
or to the seaports for trafficking to Malaysia and Singapore by sea.
To continue with operational
response to counter illicit traffic, this slide shows the deployment of
Anti-drug Units of the Myanmar Police Force. Up to 1988, we have only 8 Drug
Units with the support of US training and equipment but in the 1990s we have
been able to establish 13 new Drug Units with our own resources, out of which 2
Units, Tachileik and Muse on the Thai and China border were sponsored by UNDCP
Projects. The latest Units are Bamaw, Bago and Tadar Oo International Airport.
From the locations shown, it may be noticed all the Anti-drug Units are located
strategically along the main trafficking routes. All the major seizures are
being made by our Anti-drug Units.
Another important factor I would
like to draw your attention is on the importance of Precursor Chemicals and its
This map illustrates the
locations of clandestine refineries we have been able to search and destroy
during the past 10 years. I trust most drug enforcement officers are aware of
how many and how much chemical are needed to make a ton of heroin. This slide
shows the type of chemicals essential to make heroin and this slide shows the
amount needed. It is interesting that at the clandestine refineries that I have
shown in the previous slide, you will see this sort of chemical dumps or pileup
that we have been able to seize. (slides)
These chemicals are not produced
in Myanmar nor imported legally and diverted. It is all trafficked illicitly
from neighbouring countries particularly from China, India and Thailand. These 2
slides show how they are trafficked in the region and into Myanmar. Realising
the crucial role precursor chemicals play in the production of drugs, Myanmar
formed a Precursor Control Committee in 1998 and have 9 chemicals from the UN
Convention already under control. In addition, 12 chemicals are in the process
to be controlled as precursors.
The following charts show annual
seizures of precursor chemicals in Myanmar and also Myanmar/ China and
Myanmar/Thai border respectively. Without precursor chemical, there is no way
drugs can be produced. So I would like to stress here the slogan ” NO
PRECURSOR CHEMICALS- NO DRUGS “
We are very much aware that our
neighbouring countries are also tightening stringent controls on precursors and
interdicting substantial amount yearly and would like to commend on their
success. But still we have to do a lot more than this to curb the diversion of
chemicals into the clandestine refineries and laboratories along our common
borders. I would like to take this opportunity also to inform the meeting that
cross border meetings between counterpart enforcement agencies and field
officers have been taking place for understanding and better cooperation. The
slide shows the frequency of meetings we already had with our counterparts.
Finally on drug abuse, the 1993
Drug Law prescribes drug addicts must register on a compulsory basis to get
treatment and rehabilitation provided by the government. This slide shows the
number of drug addicts registered at government institutions and from the
breakdown on numbers and type of drugs abused, it indicates the trend is still
with opium and heroin with drug while stimulants are not the choice of drugs as
yet. However, during the baseline survey conducted yearly, indications are there
that stimulants abuse has made an entry on the stage although not taking the
centre stage as yet. Because the Drug Law stipulates compulsory registration,
unregistered abusers are arrested by the police when caught using drugs. From
1994 to present an accumulative figure of 28,687 persons have been arrested and
sentenced according to the law.
In conclusion of my
presentation, I would like to reiterate that the drug producing regions of
Myanmar are along the porous borders of our neighbouring countries which are
also very remote and the terrain very difficult. This makes very difficult
access for the government and its enforcement agencies to search and destroy
clandestine refineries and laboratories. On the other hand, it creates a haven
for drug traffickers as they could have easy access to neighbouring countries
where they can purchase precursors as well as paraphernalia and also financing
from international organized crime syndicates. Against this scenario, it calls
for the closer practical cooperation between law enforcement agencies to
overcome the upper hand taken by drug traffickers. And this meeting itself is a
testimony that we can work together and we should take this meeting as an
advantage as a common ground to find better ways and means to solve the drug
problem in the region and in the world community at large.
Thank you for your kind attention.