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China must act to stem Myanmar's runaway meth trade: report

AFP  |  Yangon 

should rein in the methamphetamine-producing militias under its influence in eastern and stem the flow of fuelling the multi-billion-dollar drug trade, a report Tuesday said.

Myanmar's Shan state is now thought to be one of the largest producers - if not the largest - of meth in the world, feeding a growing market that stretches as far as and

The country's restive eastern borderlands have hosted a flourishing narcotics trade for decades as the key in the lawless Golden Triangle, which also comprises areas of China, and

The southeast Asian nation also remains the second biggest source country for opium and heroin after

But many have in recent years switched to synthetic pills - known regionally as "yaba", Thai for "crazy medicine" - and crystal meth or "ice", a much more potent and addictive version that is smoked or injected.

Various militias provide a safe haven for the booming industry, while flow over the border from China, NGO (ICG) said in a report.

Drug production and profits are now so vast that they "dwarf" the formal sector in Shan State and are at the "centre of its political economy", the report added.

The NGO urged to "crack down" on the illegal trade of precursors across its southwestern border, where it said traffickers have been given free reign.

should also "use its influence over the Wa and armed groups controlling enclaves on the Chinese border to end their involvement in the drug trade", the report said, referring to two of Myanmar's most powerful warlord-run ethnic groups, widely seen as the region's key narcotics producers.

Several billion dollars are estimated to be made each year in for crystal meth, the ICG said, with and offering the highest street prices in the world.

A tonne has a wholesale value in of at least USD 180 million and street prices several times higher.

Crystal meth is worth more than heroin gram-for-gram, the report said. The narcotic is also exported to China, and - often in branded tea packets - as the trade becomes "increasingly professionalised" and "dominated by transnational criminal syndicates operating at huge scale".

China's success in clamping down on its own illegal meth labs has pushed the over the border, with Australian biker gangs providing regional smuggling networks, the report said.

Meanwhile, regional prices for yaba have collapsed to the lowest prices in decades as producers dump huge quantities of Southeast Asia's favourite high on the market.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 13:05 IST