Police in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon have seized over 26 million tablets of amphetamines in what may be the Southeast Asian nation’s largest seizure of the illegal stimulant to date, sources said on Tuesday.
The drugs, which police sources said had a street value of over $100 million, were discovered packed into bags in an abandoned truck in the northern suburbs of Yangon, Mingaladon Township police commander Win Shwe told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“One of our patrols checked the truck on suspicion, and found the drugs at around 5:00 a.m.,” Win Shwe said.
“The truck was parked on the shoulder of a six-lane highway near the exit to the compound of the Zaykabar Housing Estates,” he said.
No one was discovered near the truck, whose tires “had gone flat due to the heavy load,” Win Shwe said.
“We are looking for the owner of the truck. We found some documents and know the owner’s name, but we will have to make a thorough investigation before disclosing the culprits’ identities,” he said.
Largest seizure to date
The tablets found on Sunday were identified as amphetamine hydrochloride, a synthetic stimulant related to methamphetamines, and were worth about 5,000 kyats (U.S. $4) apiece, counternarcotics officer Myint Aung told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Sunday’s seizure of the stimulants, which police said were found packed into 89 bags, may be Myanmar’s largest to date, Win Shwe told RFA.
“Before this, the largest amount we had seized was worth about 700,000 kyats, and that was at the Aungmingala Truck Depot,” he said.
“These are synthetic stimulant drugs, and are small and very easy to move from one place to another,” he said. “They have no [detectable] smell, like opium, and are very profitable.”
Use of methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) is a “major problem” in Asia, with Myanmar now Southeast Asia’s biggest synthetic drug maker, says the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC).
Drug production in the country’s war-ravaged borderlands has surged in recent years, particularly the manufacture of methamphetamine tablets in jungle laboratories.
Myanmar has 300,000 drug users, according to the UNDOC.
Reported by Wai Mar Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Richard Finney.