The operation in a remote part of northern Myanmar came after the arrests yesterday (Jan 17) of four suspected traffickers who led police to a house in Shan State’s Kutkai township where the haul was discovered, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
“It’s the biggest drug seizure with the largest amount (by value and quantity) in (our) history,” a senior police officer from the anti-drug department said on the condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing.
In addition to the ya bah pills, the authorities found 502 kilograms of heroin and 1,750kg of ya ice, bringing the total estimated value to $54 million (B1.72 billion), or one-fifth of the amount of narcotics seized in the country in all of 2017.
A picture of the packages of drugs stacked high on a table was published by the ministry.
Myanmar is the second largest opium producer in the world after Afghanistan, but levels of poppy cultivation have declined as demand for methamphetamine surges, leading to numerous multi-million dollar busts.
Its lawless border areas are the hub for Asia’s meth producers, who pump out ya bah pills and ya ice, the more addictive crystallised version, across Southeast Asia.
Drug trafficking has been increasing around the country, especially in war-torn northern Shan State as many ethnic armed groups use it to buy weapons.