Cultivation of poppies for opium has doubled in the past three years, according to the director of Yunnan’s public security department in southwestern China, despite Burmese government claims of success in its purported drugs eradication scheme.
Meng Sutie, a senior police officer in the province bordering northern Burma, told the China Daily that increasing production of Burmese opium and heroin, as well as trafficking of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, was leading to increasing instances of violence and deaths in China’s border towns.
He said that land in Burma allocated to poppy cultivation currently stood at around 26,800 hectares, down from a decade ago but still a dramatic increase from 2008. Similar warnings were voiced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2009 when it claimed that land-use for opium had increased by 50 percent over the three years prior.
State-run media in Burma said however this week that more than 6000 hectares of poppy plantations in the Kachin and Shan states, which border China and account for 95 percent of Burma’s opium output, had been destroyed since 2010.
But narcotics experts, including those from the US State Department, have doubted the Burmese junta’s commitment to eradicating illegal drugs, with some alleging they reap significant benefits from the lucrative industry.
A report released last year by the Thailand-based Shan Drug Watch claimed that junta-backed militias had taken over ethnic armies as Burma’s main drugs’ producers. Rising hostilities between ethnic armies and the Burmese had, according the report’s lead author, Khunsai Jaiyen, prompted a clampdown on their drug production and mobility.
Police in China arrest more than 10,000 drug traffickers each year, the China Daily said. It quoted Meng as claiming that Burmese traffickers were accountable for up to 90 percent of the drugs brought into Yunnan.