Third-day session of 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug


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.


to 24th HONLEA taking part in discussions sponsored by

the United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) and hosted by




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



general round of discussions being held at 24th meeting of Heads of


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


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



  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


ATS tablets are said to be smuggled form the Myanmar / Thai

border aras into neighbouring China , India and Thailand along the following


  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:-



( 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


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”


on 24th HONLEA in progress.