Myanmar’s meth boom affects Malaysia and surrounding countries, says report

Malaysian police display part of the methamphetamine or shabu worth RM103 million seized in Johor last month. A new documentary by Al Jazeera reveals that Myanmar is the biggest producer of the drug in the region. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Myanmar is now the biggest producer of methamphetamine in the world, much of which ends up in neighbouring places such as Malaysia, according to an investigative report by Al Jazeera on the trade of the illegal drug in the region.

The report found, among others, that the meth produced in the interior regions of Myanmar ends up in countries from Thailand to Australia including Malaysia, where it is better known as shabu.

“There are allegations that ethnic rebels and pro-government militias are both involved in meth trafficking and I wanted to find out if these accusations are true,” said Al Jazeera journalist Pailin Wedel, ahead of the report’s broadcast today through its current affairs programme 101 East.

Authorities across the region including in Malaysia have been struggling to curb the flow of shabu.

Just last month, a record 2.06 tonnes of shabu worth some RM103 million was seized during raids by police, customs and the maritime agency in Ulu Tiram, Johor.

In September last year, police seized one tonne of shabu worth RM54 million in Penang.

Police say one tonne of shabu would be able to supply 5.3 million addicts.

The Al Jazeera report said despite record amounts of meth being seized across the region, authorities estimate they are only catching about 20% of it.

The rest is used by anyone from labourers in construction sites to youngsters from wealthy families who use it as a party drug, said the report which followed enforcement officers in the Golden Triangle, an area of about 950,000 sq km where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.