Laos Police Make South East Asia’s Biggest Ever Drugs Bust

On Thursday, two Thai security sources confirmed that Lao police had made a record illicit drugs seizure in the Golden Triangle region.

According to the United Nations, it was the largest drug bust ever recorded in Asia.

On Wednesday, law enforcement agents intercepted a truck carrying beer crates in northern Bokeo, a province bordering Thailand and Myanmar. The UN crime agency reported that more than 55 million methamphetamine tablets and over 1.5 tons of crystalline methamphetamine were seized.

According to Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), it was “by far the largest seizure in the history of East and Southeast Asia.”

The area, internationally known as the “Golden Triangle,” is located in northeast Myanmar and connects Thailand and Laos. It has been described as a major drug-producing area in recent years.

Wednesday’s bust followed two separate raids where police seized 16 million amphetamine tablets in the same area over a week.

Douglas said authorities had reported a significant increase in drug supplies in the Golden Triangle in recent months.

The spike in the volume of seized drugs was reportedly due to a shift in smuggling routes forced by unrest in Myanmar’s Shan State, which borders China, Laos, and Thailand, since the February coup.

“Neighbors and the wider region are getting absolutely flooded with methamphetamine, and there is little doubt it is connected to the governance situation in Shan,” he said.

The strict Covid-19 and security measures on China’s Yunnan border with Myanmar are also believed to have contributed to increased traffic to eastern Laos and southern Thailand, as companies and business operators try to avoid losses, Douglas added.

The huge haul seized Wednesday was packaged in Lao Brewery’s beer crates, police reports said.

However, the Lao Brewery denied having any involvement in the case.

“We are deeply disappointed that our crates have been abused as a cover for illegal activities and will not hesitate to take immediate illegal action towards anyone misusing our company assets,” the beer company said in a statement.