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War against drugs in Golden Triangle

06-26-2010 13:13 BJT

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The Golden Triangle overlaps the mountains of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The area has been one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of Asia and the world since 1920s. It's also a major source of heroin.

Tony Cheng travelled to the area to get a close-up look at the drug smuggling and the war against it.

Patrolling one of the most infamous drug smuggling routes in the world. Thailand's "Black Warriors' a special forces unit on operations on the northern border with Myanmar.

Once lawless, this region is now under the army's control but in the past 12 months the flow of narcotics has risen from a trickle to a flood.

Major Thawat,Chansompoch, 3017 Company, The Black Warriors, said, "We've seen a big increase in drug smuggling recently in part because the people here want to make money, but also because the ethnic minorities are trying to buy weapons."

At a checkpoint locals are searched thoroughly for drugs.

Many of these people belong to ethnic groups that have been in conflict with Myanmar's government for decades.

As national elections in Myanmar approach, many of those groups are trying to fortify their position in resistance to the government...and using the narcotics trade to do so.

Although Thailand is no longer a producer of narcotics it is first stop on the path for the smugglers.

The long and ragged border that runs for thousands of kilometers is easy to breach, and the militaries intelligence warns much more is waiting to be trafficked.

"This is the infamous Golden triangle, traditionally an area of drug smuggling. These soldiers are patrolling the border with Myanmar, just on the other side of these mountains. The problem they have is that is area is very mountainous and locking it down is almost impossible."

The dense jungles of Myanmar now hide a greater problem.

While heroin production has been in decline, small portable labs have sprung up making methamphetamine pills harder to find and easier to smuggle.

And you don't have to look hard to find the casualties of this deadly trade.

A rehab center close to the golden triangle provides help for addicts form Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia and Myanmar.

The emphasis is on self-help and endurance rather than medication to overcome the dependence on drugs.

But those coming across the border form Myanmar are reporting that drugs are in plentiful supply and more accessible than ever before.

Ban Zheng Ming, Administrator, "Operation Dawn" Rehab Center, said, "They tell me there are a lot of drugs there, that Myanmar is very serious now. They say the drugs are much cheaper than Thailand too".

Those lucky enough to have escaped drugs are trying to rebuild their lives.

But with more instability expected across the border, the war against drugs appears to be far from won.

 

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CCTV.com

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