Police in Laos have made one of Asia’s biggest-ever drug busts, seizing more than 55.6 million methamphetamine pills in a single raid.
The drugs were found in the northern province of Bokeo, the state-run Vientiane Times newspaper reported on Thursday.
The drugs were found on Wednesday in sacks in a house that police searched after earlier discovering 10 million tablets hidden in beer crates on a truck on its way to the capital, Vientiane, the newspaper said in an online report.
Information from the truck driver led them to the house, where 65 bags of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, were also found, it said. Lao National Radio said they weighed a total of 1537 kilograms.
Two men were said to be under arrest. The newspaper said the Lao Brewery Company, the owner of the crates, issued a statement denying involvement in drug smuggling.
“We are deeply disappointed that our crates have been abused as a cover for illegal activities,” it quoted the statement as saying.
On Monday, police found 6 million amphetamine tablets hidden in a pickup truck driving through the province, the newspaper said.
Bokeo borders Thailand and Myanmar and is part of the Golden Triangle, a remote geographical area with a long history of illegal drug production and smuggling.
The 55.6 million meth tablets and 1.5 tonnes of crystal meth seized in Bokeo represents around three times the tablets and a third of the crystal seized last year in the whole country, said Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia regional representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
In a report released in June, the UN Office said production and trafficking of synthetic drugs in East and Southeast Asia have surged despite the coronavirus pandemic. It said criminal syndicates adapted to and capitalised on the situation.
Laos is well known as a transit point for drugs from Myanmar, a major producer of methamphetamine, that go to Thailand, Vietnam and points beyond.
Australian Associated Press