Refineries guarded by soldiers
According to sources coming across the border, local Burmese military units constitute the main security forces of the laboratories that are being set up by the drug operators.
"For instance, the labs in Mongpan, 2 yaba (methamphetamines) and 2 heroin, in Loinoi Tract, operated by an ethnic Chinese boss, are under the protection of LIB (Light Infantry Battalion) 332, said a source.
"Those in Laikha Township, 1 yaba and 2 heroin refineries, also operated by an ethnic Chinese gang, are protected by LIB 515 and Lahu militia".
"It is the same on the eastern side of the Salween," said another. "The two labs in Mongpulong Tract, Mongpiang Township, both yaba, one operated by an ethnic Chinese and the other by a Lahu, exist under the custody of Infantry Battalion 43."
Many battalions in Shan State are more and more deeply involved in the production, transportation and trafficking of drugs since Rangoon imposed a self-supporting program for each military unit 4 years back, they said.
|No. of labs||Location||Year of establishment|
|1.||Mongpan||2||2||Hwe Hsaiyam, Loinoi Tract||March 2002|
|2.||Laikha||1||2||Near deserted villages of Haihseng and Teuleng, 12 miles east of Laikha||2002 [Captain Thein Nyunt commands the security force made up of 50 Burmese soldiers and 20 Lahu tribemen. Lao Wu, 56, an ethnic Chinese, is their purchasing agent. Opium prices range between 60,000 - 80,000 kyat.]|
|3.||Mongpiang||2||-||One near Wiangkao village 10 miles east of Mongpulong; another, near Piangsarng village, 8 miles south of Mongpulong.||2000 [Captain Win Myint, Commander of Company 4, IB 43, has assigned two NCOs, Cpl Thein Myint and Sgt Soe Aung, at the laboratories.|
War against Shans bringing more speed
The recent outbreak of hostilities along the border between Rangoon and the Shan State Army had provided golden opportunities for the Wa to move a staggering amount of methamphetamine pills from their headquarters at the Chinese border to the south near the Thai border, sources told S.H.A.N. yesterday.
"You can bet that every time Panghsang (the Wa capital) dispatched their units to help the Burmese in their campaign against the SSA, millions of yaba pills came along with their convoys, unobstructed and unsearched by Burmese checkpoints along the route," reported a source close to the Wa, whose information is supported by several others.
The incoming "merchandise" are being stored up at Hokhong, near the former Kuomintang airstrip along the Mekhong in Paliao-Kenglarb area, north of Tachilek. From there, they are shipped to Thailand through their agents whose trustworthiness have been proven, he said.
"I'm pretty certain the 1.8 pills seized in Chiangrai (on 15 August) came from Hokhong," he added.
Meanwhile, all refineries east of the Kengtung-Tachilek road were reported to have been ordered by the Burmese army to relocate elsewhere.
Also, since March, after Wa declared "washing their hands off drugs", all drug-relocated activities have been brought under tight central control, dependent on the decisions of a handful of leaders, among whom is Wei Hsuehkang, the drug fugitive who is wanted both in Thailand and the United States.
Thailand's Burma policy
When Rangoon chooses to be (as
hard as) wood, Bangkok can deal with it only by becoming as hard as
iron. However, what we're seeing here is the great Thailand turning
into a roll of wool, each time Burma hardens its stand.
A Muslim businessman in Tachilek, 19 August 2002