Chinese cops intercept shipment of drug precursor

Chinese cops intercept shipment of drug precursor

Almost 30 tonnes of hydrochloric acid was headed for Myanmar

Chinese police have intercepted a shipment of hydrochloric acid bound for the Golden Triangle region, which will likely affect the production of 3.9 billion methamphetamine pills.

Up to 30 tonnes of the acid, a key solvent and catalyst for drug production, was confiscated as traffickers attempted to smuggle it into Myanmar's Shan State, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board's (ONCB) secretary-general, Niyom Termsrisuk, said on Thursday citing a report from a Thai diplomat based in Beijing. 

Officers in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan led the mission, part of an international drug crackdown, known as "Golden Triangle 1511", which joins six countries in the Mekong basin — China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Mr Niyom applauded the operation, saying that it will help "stop the influx of drugs into many countries”.

With such a large quantity of hydrochloric acid, drugmakers could have made at least 79 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine, he said. Hydrochloric acid is mostly trafficked from China, followed by India.

Governments are working together to stop the smuggling of acid and other drug precursors into the Golden Triangle, a notorious narcotics hotbed with an overlapping mountainous area shared by Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

Under the four-month-old 1511 drug suppression crackdown, which ended on March 31, officers in six countries seized up to 210 tonnes of chemicals used in the drug-making process.

Among them was a shipment of 65.4 tonnes of hydrochloric acid. Previously, the largest haul seized was a shipment of 35.4 tonnes in Myanmar.

Meanwhile, police in Chiang Mai have arrested four drug couriers believed to be working for a new major drug trader in the North, identified as “Hia Ta”.

The man, suspected of being the mastermind of recent drug trades, is known among police as a new ringleader replacing "Lao Ta Saenlee", who was nabbed in a sting operation in 2016.

The 80-year-old ex-Kuomintang fighter, known formerly as an aide to the late drug kingpin Khun Sa, was given a life sentence in 2017.

The four arrested drugs suspects, who were transporting 500,000 methamphetamine pills, are part of Hia Ta’s network, which is a transnational drug gang, Provincial Police Region 5 chief Prachuap Wongsuk said on Thursday.


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