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Drug traffickers using express highways in Golden Triangle

Improved highways are offering illicit drug gangs in the Golden Triangle easier access to smuggle drugs into China, say authorities in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in Yunnan Province.

Shan State poppies in bloom  Photo: UNODC The capital of the province is Jinghong, the largest city in the area and one that straddles the Mekong River, where it leaves China and flows along the borders of Burma and Laos into the area called the Golden Triangle.

With improved highways now in China, Burma, Laos and Thailand, many drug smugglers are avoiding the isolated mountain and river transportation routes of older days and blending in with the densely packed traffic on modern,  highways, according to an article by China’s Xinhua news agency on Tuesday.

The drugs, usually amphetamines or opium, can be easily hidden in cargo – clothing, furniture, computers – and undermanned border guard forces are not able to unload tons of cargo to discover 25 kilograms of illegal heroin.  

Authorities in Xishuangbanna told Xinhua that it seized 5.2 tonnes of narcotics in 2011, marking an increase of 297.9 percent over the past year and accounting for one-third of Yunnan's total drug seizures.

Along with the Mekong region nations, China is developing its southwestern “economic and social corridor,” a linkage of new railways and highways connecting Yunnan and Southeast Asian countries.

In northern Burma, armed rebels and drug dealers have jointed forces to traffic in drugs, said Yunnan security officials.

“In Myanmar, if you buy 10 kilograms of drugs, the supplier will give you a firearm or grenade for free,” one border official told Xinhua.  

China has instituted a program of agricultural cooperation designed to allow poor Burmese farmers to replace their poppy crops with high-yield cash crops, officials said.

However, they said figures for 2011 showed a rebound in the expansion of poppy-growing areas of about 11 percent in northeast Burma and 59 per cent in northern Laos, said the report.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:46 )  

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