Heroin seized in Thailand not from Wa
Businesspeople in Shan State East say it was unlikely the Wa would have anything to do with the 195 kg haul in Thailand’s Phrae on Friday, as alleged by some Thai drugbusters.
Bangkok Post, 21 February issue, quoted Pornthep Eamprapai, director of Narcotics Control Office Region 5, as saying the factory that produced the seized shipment was located in the Wa area, opposite Chiangmai’s Fang and Mae Ai districts.
The Thai law enforcement have also detained 12 Hmong suspects.
There are about 50-60 households of Hmong community migrated from Thailand, according to local sources. They are believed to be involved in the drug production and trade along the Thai-Burma border.
However, according to Drug Watch report coming yesterday, the Wa are the least likely to be involved in the said deal mainly for the following reasons:
“The shoes (meaning the twin-heroin blocks each pair weighing 700 gm) made by the militias can be bought at 250,000-260,000 baht ($ 8,300-8,600) on the border,” said an informed businessman. “They are often turned down by buyers in Laos. Only those made by Wa, Nayai and Markkieng fetch higher prices there. So I guess drugs seized in Thailand must be those rejected by the international buyers in the Golden Triangle (meaning Laos).”
- The Wa ban poppy growing inside their controlled areas due to stern warnings by China; raw or refined opium must therefore be brought to the factories in Wa territory from the outside
- It is very difficult for anything to enter the Wa-controlled areas due to tight restrictions by the surrounding Burma Army units since the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s refusal to become part of the Naypyitaw-run Border Guard Force (BGF) program
- For the imports to reach the Wa territory and their products to leave it, they have to pass through militia and BGF units under the control of the Burma Army by paying heavy transit tax
- Most of the Wa products, except for methamphetamines, go to Laos and not to Thailand
- The militia groups and BGFs who are favored by Naypyitaw over the Wa, following its rejection of the BGF program, are outdoing the Wa when it comes to heroin production as the militia-BGF areas are able to grow opium poppies freely
- The Hmong most of whom are from Thailand are also moving their business investments into militia-BGF areas
- Last but not least, the militia-BGF produced heroin, except for those coming from Nayai and Markkieng in Namzang township, are still low-quality.
High-quality heroin is currently fetching $ 11,500 per Jin (700 gm), according to him.
Thailand’s TV Channel 7, during its late night transmission on 20 February, said 45 sacks of precursor chemicals bound for Punako, Mongtoom village tract, Monghsat township were seized a day earlier. Punako’s militia chief is Kya Ngoi, with a long history of involvement in the drug trade.
For more information on Punako and other Burma Army controlled militias, please read Show Business, published by SHAN in 2003, and Hand in Glove, published also by SHAN in 2006.