The Golden Triangle and regions along the Mekong River are notorious for being one of the world’s most prolific drug-producing and trafficking areas.
Referring to the area intersected by the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, the Golden Triangle is second only to Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent when it comes to Asia’s opium production.
In a bid to combat production and clean up the area, countries in the Mekong area have joined forces to create the Safe Mekong Joint Operation, which launched its first phase back in 2013.
This year sees the launch of its third phase, which will focus on the source of the issue: intercepting precursors and the chemicals used to create the narcotics in order to stop them from reaching the drug production base, reports the Bangkok Post.
Countries will block known smuggling points along the borders and increase the number of checkpoints, particular at the Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge and the Soap Loi port in Myanmar, while also implementing joint patrols along the river.
The Safe Mekong Joint Operation was originally made up of China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, and has been joined by Cambodia and Vietnam this year in order to best address the problem throughout the Southeast Asia region.
Results have so far been impressive and tangible through the efforts of the joint operation. Last year saw the following arrests and seizures made throughout the region, according to Prasong Rattanaphan, director of the Safe Mekong Coordination Centre:
- 7,900 alleged trug traffickers arrested
- Over 104,000,000 Methamphetamine pills seized
- 333 kg of heroin seized
- 268kg of crystal meth seized
- and over 40 tonnes of precursors seized
Arrests for drug smuggling, production and large-scale dealing are hitting the headlines almost daily in Thailand, illustrating the proactivity of the crackdown campaign.
Just this past Tuesday, two vans were seized by police in Chumpon containing 448kg of vacuum packed marijuana, while the end of January saw the arrests of two men and woman for the possession of over 80,000 speed pills, 16,000 Methamphetamine pills, over half a kilo of crystal meth and precursors and ingredients to make a further million speed pills. It’s believed the producers added small amounts of crystal meth to the speed pills to increase the potency.
The third phase of the Safe Mekong Joint Operation is due to run until 2018.
Featured image via United Nations