Tracking the dangerous drug trade

January 11, 2013

The New Mon State Party (NMSP)’s new anti-drug awareness campaign recently reported confiscating 393 tablets of methamphetamine, locally known as Yaba, or “madness drug” in Thai.

The group intercepted alleged drug trafficker Mehm Ah Pout (called Mg Yaung Naing in Burmese), a 23-year-old from Waekharou Village, with 17 tablets of methamphetamine near the military cemetery in Thanbyuzayat Township on December 18. Mehm Ah Pout’s testimony resulted in an arrest the following day of another young man from Waekharou, 28-year-old Mehm Ah Beat (Mg Aung Myit in Burmese), who was also charged with drug trafficking after being found with 376 Yaba tablets.

Members of the NMSP drug campaign allege that the two men were part of the same drug-peddling group.

“These two men were selling without fear [of reprisal] because people could order drugs just by calling them. Most adults and young people buy drugs over the phone if they know how to contact the drug dealers. Because of this, we got exact information from some youths and contacted the drug traffickers to say we were willing to buy drugs; in this way, we arrested one first, then the other one was arrested at his house.”

Nai Htun Ya, head of the district-level NMSP office in Moulmein, said, “We sent the two drug dealers to the court in Moulmein for them to address the problem through legal means since we already processed the case through the NMSP.”

The recent arrests were the anti-drug group’s second encounter with the methamphetamine trade. In October, the group arrested two women, Mi Hnin Aye and Mi Ngae, with 52 Yaba tablets in Kwan Hlar Village, Kawkyarit Township.

“We have received a lot of information concerning drug issues in other places and we are planning to tackle this drug issue precisely,” said the leader of the anti-drug awareness group who preferred to remain anonymous.

The anti-drug campaign highlights the growing attention to the dangerous drug trade happening in Mon State, the border communities, and among the migrant populations in Thailand and Malaysia. Since 2000, the number of people struck by behavioral and mental disabilities or death caused by drugs has continued to rise. Health issues related to drug use have increased, and drug users may quit jobs or evade responsibilities, leave their families, or lose homes or property. Drug-addicted students frequently stop attending school. Migrant workers in their 20s and 30s commonly use drugs while working long hours or physically demanding jobs.

In Malaysia, three tablets of methamphetamine cost around 10 Malaysian Ringgits (RM), but migrant workers typically earn between 30 and 50 RM each day, resulting in budgets that become strained to cover living and food expenses. Some people have lived abroad for 7 to 8 years, but are still unable to send money home or pay back loans to employers.

In extreme cases, drug users may no longer receive the same satisfaction from methamphetamine tablets, and decide to inject the drug into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of HIV among people sharing needles. Many Mon youth and adult migrant workers have been sent back to Burma by their host country for contracting a viral disease.

People who have lost themselves to alcohol or drugs, or lost all their money to their habit, may even kill themselves. Various cases of suicide by hanging, jumping off buildings or bridges, and vehicle accidents have been reported. Some people immerse their lives in drinking and using drugs, and subsequently lose their grip on their futures. Adults living on the border and in Mon State are usually more drawn to drinking alcohol and fermented palm sap, while those in Thailand and Malaysia have greater access to drugs.

Although the authorities have laws against drug sales and use, the problem continues to exist. The drug traffickers ignore the effects on the drug user because it is their means for business. But drug traffickers forget that they will reap the consequences of past misdeeds, and that legal punishment will eventually be brought.



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