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Cross border drug flows rising in North West Laos’ Luang Namtha

Publication Date : 09-12-2013


The proliferation of drugs is a posing a serious challenge for the largest settlement in North West Laos’ Luang Namtha authorities as large quantities are now being seized on a daily basis, according to security officials.

“On average, we have seized between 100 to 500 kgs of drugs every day this year,” said Deputy Head of the provincial Public Security Force Lieutenant Colonel Insom Khamlasinh.

H said the drugs are coming in from neighbouring countries via the riverports of Xiengkok in Long district and Xiengkhaeng in Sing district.

Provincial officials have been seizing large quantities of amphetamines, heroine and crystal methamphetamines.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Insom, they cracked down on 35 drug related cases this year with more than 5 million amphetamine tablets, 21 kg of heroine, and 56 kg intercepted.

The colonel said even though the police force conducts regular patrols trafficking is still on the rise and a number of groups are operational, involving criminal operators from both Laos and Myanmar.

Police readily admit that the number of traffickers who manage to escape is more than the number apprehended and the quantity of drugs lowing through is greater than that intercepted.

Lieutenant Colonel Insom did not want to mention the destination the traffickers were aiming for, but he noted that drug abuse is proliferating locally as a result.

Drug use is increasingly widespread among students, workers, and other group of young people in Luang Namtha, especially in the provincial capital.

The situation is a major concern for authorities because most of the cases they have intercepted have been at random road blocks and it is hard to gain any advance intelligence about the traffickers operations.

He expressed his concerns that the problem will only get worse on Road No 3 following the opening of the Mekong bridge in Bokeo, which he said will also facilitate trafficking via concealment in freight trucks.

Lieutenant Colonel Insom said his force lacks the necessary equipment to deal with the situation such as machines to scan goods containers. “It is difficult to identify whether a 20-30 tonnes of goods container is free from drugs without scanning it,” he said.

The province Public Security Force is currently implementing the Ministry of Public Security's Decision No.1470 on combating negative social phenomena and suppressing criminal activity.

Lt Col Insom said there are many difficulties, including insufficient vehicles and budget shortages, which he said are both very necessary for patrols to reach the mountainous and dangerous areas.

“Even though the traffickers are not modernised, it is difficult for our force to crack down on them because we are also not modernised either,” he said.




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