Thai authorities have stepped up their campaign against a flood of methamphetamines being smuggled out of Burma.
Seizures of methamphetamine tablets across Thailand, Burma and China have jumped dramatically from 30 million two years ago to 90 million last year.
Burmese rebels who fear there will be a crackdown by the country's military government ahead of planned elections are increasing drug production to fund the purchase of weapons.
Thai army Lieutenant Non Puthirang says the army has stepped up patrols along the porous border between the two countries, seizing escalating shipments of drugs bound for Thailand and the rest of the world.
Ethnic militia groups like the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and other groups have to distribute methamphetamine to make money and then they use that money to buy weapons to protect themselves, he said.
Policing the border is difficult because the Burmese authorities are hampering efforts to stamp out drug manufacturing by not allowing the Thai army to make arrests in the no man's land close to the river crossing.
Outside the no man's land Thai authorities are conducting random searches, raiding villages and cracking down on illegal Burmese migrants who move almost effortlessly back and forth across the border.
At vehicle checkpoints they are conducting random urine tests.
In the latest seizure, Thai authorities caught a woman who was alleged to have been carrying 28,000 pills.
She is accused of smuggling them across the river in a small boat, with the drugs packed into containers of food.
Thai authorities say the haul has a street value close to $500,000.
The golden triangle of Burma, Laos and Thailand used to produced half of the world's opiates.
These days the notorious drug corridor is rife with crystal meth and ice, made in jungle labs and exported to the world.
Thailand has the highest level of methamphetamine addiction in the world and authorities have enlisted village volunteers to discourage their use among young people.
Experts put the huge increase in drug use over the past few years down to increased production.
Fri Aug 13, 2010
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