Third-day session of 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law
Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific
Region (HONLEA) held


The third-day session of the 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific Region (HONLEA), continued at the Hotel Equatoria on 16 November 2000.

The meeting was attended by the officials of UNDCP and INTERPOL, the delegates of ASEAN, those of the South Pacific Island Countries Association, and leaders and members of the 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.

Mr. Chartchai Suthilom, officiating deputy secretary-general of Thai Narcotic Drugs Control Board, led the group discussions on control of stimulants and made a speech.

Next, UNDCP official Mr. Lan Munro explained the agenda of the third-day session.

Mr. Chartchai Suthiklom gave a presentation on national narcotic drugs control activities with the help of video slides.

Afterwards, member of Myanmar delegation Head of Department of the Office of Strategic Studies Col. Kyaw Thein gave a presentation.

Mr Romeo Sanga of INTERPOL brought forth video slides showing seizures of heroin and stimulants, and control activities in various parts of the world.

The afternoon session saw group discussions on trafficking in drugs through sea routes. Director of Japan National Police Mr. Yasunori Orita led the discussions and made a speech.

Participants to 24th HONLEA taking part in discussions sponsored by
the United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) and hosted by Myanmar.


Discussions on 24th HONLEA in progress at the Hotel Equatorial in Yangon, Myanmar.


A general round of discussions being held at 24th meeting of Heads of National
Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific Region (HONLEA).


Presentation by Col. Kyaw Thein, member of Myanmar delegation Head of Department of the Office Strategic Studies



Narcotic drugs is the common enemy of mankind for it is a phenomenon that is not confined to one country alone, for with no respect for the sovereignty of nations, trafficking in drugs infiltrates territorial boundaries. The Government of the Union of Myanmar has therefore designated the fight against narcotic drugs a national cause and underscoring the need for collaboration and cooperation, according works together with non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, neighbouring countries as well as sub-regional and regional countries in its crusade against the narcotic drug menace.

Myanmar, like other Southeast Asian countries, is at present, having to contend with opium and opium-related drugs, heroin, cannabis, stimulants such as ATS/Ecstasy and other volatile substances and inhalants. Stimulant drugs such as ATS emerged in the region a decade ago and posed a serious problem for Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and Korea. But Myanmar was confronted with the threat of stimulant drugs only towards the end of 1996. Today, transnational crime syndicates that commit grave and monstrous boundaries and are threatening the entire world. They are exploiting the changing situation of the world and the globalization process to step up their criminal activities.

To produce stimulants such as ATS is a simple and inexpensive process. But the main requirements are the necessary chemicals, electrical power and the latest machinery and equipment. In seizures made in Myanmar so far, it has been found that conspirators abroad have supplied mechanical components vital for the production of ATS, and that processing is done not by one individual group alone but in collaboration with foreign partners in crime. However considering the fact that ATS stimulants reared its head in Myanmar in the latter half of 1996, consumption is still low. ATS stimulants can be produced not only in the comman border areas of two countries but also in Kitchen Laboratories (Kitchen Labs) in towns and cities. But in Myanmar, with the exception of the seizures of one Kitchen lab in Tachilek in October 2000, no other ATS Labs have been discovered nor captured in Myanmar so far. The problem of ATS stimulants is not exculsive to Myanmar alone, but an international one, and being of a totally different nature from that of traditional narcotic drugs such as opium and heroin, it calls for a multi-national approach and cooperation to resolve the problem.

The main precursor chemicals required for the production of ATS which include Ephedrine, are manufactured by the two industrialized nations in the region, India and China for legitimate industrial purposes. In addition, it is also a known fact that precursor chemicals and controlled chemicals from other industrialized countries also find their way into the region by all manner of illegal means. The main precursor chemical for the production of stimulant drugs, Ephedrine, first penetrated Myanmar from China in late 1996 and over 3,000 kilos was seized in Lashio in northern Shan State. More ephedrine arrived from India in 1998 followed by caffeine and ATS production accessories from neighbouring Thailand. May I take this opportunity to point out that Myanmar lacks the technology and therefore the capacity to produce Ephedrine and other chemical agents vital for the production of ATS. Nevertheless, Myanmar shares lengthy common borders with the neighbours China. India and Thailand and the terrain in these regions is rough, mountainous and thickly forested and therefore largely inaccessible. So advantage can be taken of the isolation and seclusion afforded by these natural barriers to smuggle in the necessary precursor chemicals, mechanical components, electrical power generators as well as expertise. Thus criminal associates can produce and carry on illegal drug trafficking along the border areas to cater to the demands on the international market.

Myanmar, as part of developing her economy, has been promoting border trade with neighbouring countries and the fact that precursor chemicals may enter Myanmar through these normal border trade routes is a distinct possibility. But, there are also many overland jungle tracks and trails through which these precursor chemicals may be brought in illegally. Under these circumstances it is not easy for the interdiction teams at the border areas to thoroughly seal off these gaps and control the comings and goings of traffickers. So permission was requested of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control to temporarily expropriate all dubious chemicals to be submitted for further examination. This led to the discovery and apprehension of a large haul of contraband chemicals. The drug control teams have therefore achieved a measure of sucess. But there remained the possibility of legally imported chemicals being diverted for illicit uses. To prevent this the Precursor Chemical Control Committee was formed under the control of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, headed by the Deputy Director General of Police. The task of this Committee is to systematically inspect and supervise the import, conveyance, storage and use of all chemicals.

ATS tablets are simple to produce and generate large profits; so illegal drug producers have switched to this more lucrative line of drug production. The cost of producing one ATS tablet is a mere 30 kyats, but fetches between 200 to 300 kyats at the border areas. In Yangon, Myanmar, the price of a tablet is between kyat 700 to 1000 and in Bangkok it is between baht 100 to 150 apiece. It has been learnt from seizures made in the country that drug trafficking is a two-way business. ATS tablets are smuggled out of the border areas in Myanmar into Thailand and reciprocally the trafficking begins from Maesot. Thailand where the stimulant drugs are purchased and brought right down to Yangon, Myanmar. Similarly, Ephedrine tablets are purchased at source in China to be conveyed to Muse for sale. At one time millions of ATS stimulants were conveyed to Muse for sale. At one time millions of ATS stimulants were conveyed in secret false compartment built into motor vehicles, but nowadays, young women are used as carriers with each smuggling in between 20,000 to 30,000 tablets each.

For the production of ATS tablets in Myanmar Ephedrine and Caffeine, the main precursor chemicals required and the ATS producing equipment, are usually said to be brought in along the following routes-

  1. China, Shweli- Muse- Kutkai – China / Myanmar border areas.

  2. India, Moreh- Tamu- Kale- Monywa – Mandalay – Lashio – China / Myanmar border areas.

  3. India, Moreh- Tamu – Homalin - Hpaung pyin – Kalewa –Monywa Mandalay Lashio China/ Myanmar border areas.

  4. India/ Myanmar border- Tiddim – Falam – Hakha - Monywa – Mandalay – Lashio – China/ Myanmar border areas.

  5. Thailand, Maesai - Tachilek – Thai / Myanmar border areas.

ATS tablets are said to be smuggled form the Myanmar / Thai border aras into neighbouring China , India and Thailand along the following routes-

  1. China/Myanmar border areas- Muse - Kutkai - Lashio - Mandalay – Taunggyi - Kyaingtong Tachilek Thailand.

  2. China / Myanmar border areas- Muse – Kutkai - Loilem – Kyaingtong - Monghpyat- Tachilek – Thailand.

  3. China/ Myanmar border areas – Lashio - Mogok - Mandalay- Han Myintmo (diversion from Kyaukse) – Aung Pan – Taunggyi- Kyaingtong- Tachilek- Thailand.

  4. China /Myanmar border areas – Lashio – Tangyang - Loilem – Tounggyi - Kyaingtong - Tachilek – Thailand.

  5. China / Myanmar border areas- via routes along the border- Kyanigtong – Tachilek - Thailand.

  6. China / Myanmar border areas- China.

  7. China / Myanmar border areas- Lashio- Mandalay- Monywa- Kale- India.

  8. Thai / Myanmar border areas – Thailand.

Since the Government of the Union of Myanmar had designated the fight against narcotic drug a National Task, narcotic drug control and suppression measures were intensified within the country after 1988. When in 1996, the illicit production and trafficking of stimulant drugs made its apperance, greater priority was given for implementing stronger measure for control and suppression. As a result, the amount of stimulant drugs seized up to September 2000 is as given below:-

Stimulant Tablets
( In millions )
1996   5.906 - -
1997   5.028 2420 -
1998 16.206 3819 -
1999 28.887 6485 -
2000 ( Up to Sept.) 22.820 2657 2022
                Total 78.670 15381 2022

Being thus confronted with this new problem of stimulant tablets the Government has taken measures that include conducting and participating in workshops both at home and abroad; it has drawn up and accordingly implemented special plans and programmes to prevent the penetration of stimulant drug use among students and youths; it has enhanced cooperation not only with neighbouring countries but also with countries in the region; and has cooperated with non-governmental organizations both local and international, to carry out, not only narcotic drug control but also educative activities which are given the highest priority.

Synthetic drugs generally known as ATS are produced principally on a base of precursor chemicals and have a greater impact than natural organic narcotic such as opium and marijuana. So to control synthetic durgs there must be effective control of precursor chemicals. The equation then is quite clear-" No precursors, no drugs". We should also keep in mind the question of consumption and demand. If there is a market for narcotic drugs, there will always be production to meet the demand. Each nation should take note of this and following a balanced approach between demand and supply take measures to bring both to an end simultaneously. Now that the deadline set for a Drug Free ASEAN has been advanced from 2020 to 2015, it is imperative that nations in the region including Myanmar cooperate closely to resolve the pressing problem of ATS stimulants, which threaten us all today. It is only through such cooperation that we can hope to achieve the goal of a "Drug Free ASEAN by 2015"

Discussions on 24th HONLEA in progress.