Golden Triangle: Chemical firms, casinos targeted in battle against synthetic drugs

In 2014, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime started a programme to help farmers in Myanmar's Shan state switch from growing opium to coffee, to curb the flourishing narcotics trade.
A nursery for coffee seedlings in Hopong, Myanmar's Shan state. The villagers used to grow opium until a UN programme helped them to make the switch to coffee.
A nursery for coffee seedlings in Hopong, Myanmar's Shan state. The villagers used to grow opium until a UN programme helped them to make the switch to coffee.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Coffee seedlings. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime in 2014 started a programme that helped Myanmar opium farmers grow and market premium coffee.
Coffee seedlings. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime in 2014 started a programme that helped Myanmar opium farmers grow and market premium coffee.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Myanmar faces a different threat even as it tries to cut opium crop

Mobile phone signals peter off in the homesteads of Hopong township, reached by gravel-lined roads chiselled into the steep Myanmar mountainside.

Opium used to be a cash crop in this area until the locals received global aid to grow coffee.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline 'Chemical firms, casinos targeted in battle against synthetic drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe