Myanmar seizes $6.26m of crystal meth

YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar said Thursday (Oct 26) it had seized US$4.6 million (S$6.26 million) worth of crystal methamphetamine in the heart of the drug-producing "Golden Triangle" zone that showers narcotics across the region.

The remote area - which covers Shan State, Laos and northern Thailand - churns out huge quantities of opium and meth that are smuggled across porous borders to countries around Asia.

Myanmar soldiers and border officers arrested a man with 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of crystal meth in the back of his car early Wednesday (Oct 25) at a toll gate in eastern Shan state.

Highly pure crystal methamphetamine - known as "ice" - is extremely addictive and fetches hefty sums.

The quarter-tonne cache is worth US$4.6 million, according to a statement posted on the commander-in-chief's Facebook page. "The arrested man and drugs were systematically transferred to anti-drugs squad," the statement said.

Authorities in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand have struggled to dismantle the sprawling drug networks that funnel Myanmar-made narcotics through the region.

Some of the drugs head as far afield as Australia - the world's largest per capita consumer of crystal meth - where the price surges.

While low-level mules are routinely arrested, it is rare for Southeast Asian authorities to net players higher up the food chain.

Analysts say the overall drug battle is hampered by endemic official corruption as well as the ability of syndicates to bounce back from seizures by ramping-up production.