Police in Myanmar’s Hpakant mining region in Kachin state have arrested and charged 20 people for smuggling jadestone loaded in nine trucks and driven to Mongnyin region, a police official said on Tuesday.
The 20 people were charged under Article 42 of the country’s Gemstone Law, which pertains to illegally possessing and transporting raw gemstones and carries a punishment of one to seven years imprisonment and an unspecified fine.
“They transported pieces of jade hidden under the floor of the trucks,” Colonel Myo Thura Naung, deputy police chief of Kachin state, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“The people who were transporting them were charged,” he said. “We still don’t know how many tons of jade they were carrying.”
Additional pieces of jade were seized by the Mongnyin region military, said Kachin state attorney general De Sin Ram.
In October 2016, authorities in Kachin state seized 40 tons of raw jadestone that were being illegally transported from the town of Waingmaw in Kachin state to China.
Hpakant, which lies about 400 miles (640 kilometers) north of Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, is the center of the country’s jade mining industry and produces some of the highest-quality jade in the world.
Much of the gem is exported or smuggled to neighboring China, where demand for the precious stone is high.
Reported by Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.