Myanmar seizes drugs worth $9m buried in 'Golden Triangle'

YANGON - Myanmar authorities have seized US$7.3 million (S$9.13 million) of drugs buried in a forest in the so-called "Golden Triangle", police said Tuesday, raising fears of a boom in the narcotics trade in the notorious border region.

A combined military and police operation in eastern Shan State unearthed a massive stash including blocks of heroin, raw opium and nearly two million methamphetamine pills.

"Our government is seriously concerned about the drugs situation," a senior police officer from the anti-drug squad told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Our crackdown against drug trafficking is ongoing."

Shan State is part of the "Golden Triangle", a region scored with smuggling routes that covers parts of Laos and Myanmar as well as Thailand, the gateway to the Southeast Asian narcotics market.

Myanmar has made several large drug busts in the area this year as it struggles to control a surging drugs trade that is flooding the region with heroin and methamphetamine.

In July, authorities seized heroin with a street value of US2.3 million hidden in a car near the Thai border in the town of Tachileik in Shan State.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says 10 per cent of the world's opium is produced in Myanmar, making it the second largest producer of the drug - the base ingredient for heroin - after Afghanistan.

Methamphetamine production is more difficult to trace, with the drug often produced in small, mobile laboratories in remote locations.

In June, Myanmar burnt around US$130 million of seized drugs, including some 1.3 tons of opium, 225 kilograms (500 pounds) of heroin and 1.2 tons of methamphetamine tablets to mark World Drugs Day.