Members of NMSP and Mon State residents point to police corruption as driving force behind widespread drug use and production

August 14, 2019

HURFOM: An official from the New Mon State Party (NMSP) recently stated that it will be nearly impossible to eradicate drug use and production in Mon State due to police corruption and the associated lack of drug-related arrests.

Commenting on the matter, a member of the NMSP’s anti-drug squad stated that throughout Mudon Township, rather than detain those guilty of drug offenses, police extort both those who use and sell drugs before promptly releasing them.

After they make a drug seizure, the police negotiate a bribe with whomever they’ve apprehended, and if they agree to pay, they [the police] don’t file charges. If they find two pills [methamphetamine] on a person, they demand 500,000 kyat (US $331.41), but if they find anywhere from 50 to 100 pills, they demand about 2 million kyat (US $1,325.64). Drug dealers and people taking drugs are afraid of being punished for their crimes, so many just pay the police. Also, parents will do anything to prevent their children from having to appear in court and will pay the bribes that police demand. The police here handle most drug-related incidents through intimidation and extortion,” said the member of the NMSP anti-drug squad.

Given their lack of authority in areas outside of their control, the NMSP claims to be confronted by great challenges when combatting the drug trade in areas they control since they say they can do little to stem the proliferation of drug production and use in neighboring areas of Mon State that are under government control.

A resident of Kwan Hlar village, an area of Mon State under government control, provides a troubling summation of how widespread drug-related police corruption is in Mon State.

Across Mudon Township, we are aware of which individuals are selling drugs, and that the police have let these people go free. By demanding that dealers or their families pay a bribe to stay out of jail, the drug trade may look like it has declined because there are so few arrests, but this is not how things are. Every village in these parts is selling drugs as if they were vegetables,” said Nai R—, a resident of Kwan Hlar village, Mudon Township.

Drug dealers in every village have a close relationship with the police. Many of them openly sell drugs, so anyone can easily buy them. Drugs have affected every village here, and many young men have become addicted,” continued Nai R—.

Although the NMSP and the Mon State government have each conducted anti-drug campaigns in recent years, the trade in methamphetamine and kratom continues to flourish.

Touching on concerns similar to those raised by Nai R—, on May 2nd 2019, Dr. Aung Naing Oo, Deputy Speaker of the Mon State Parliament, inquired before parliament as to how the state and Union-level governments can cooperate with Ethnic Armed Organizations to effectively combat the drug trade. In response, the Mon State Minister of Security and Border Affairs, Colonel Nay Htut Oo, told the Deputy Speaker that he could only address his inquiry once he had raised the matter with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and officials from the National Reconciliation and Peace Center.

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