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Drug traffickers are now increasingly using Mekong river to smuggle drugs out to other parts of the world as the river flows through many countries in the Indochina region.
Drug enforcement authorities estimated that no less than 30 million pills or tablets of drugs every year are smuggled out in such a manner.
The increase in drug trafficking prompted authorities of four countries to pool their resources to stem the tide of narcotics being ferried on the fabled river.
Now, Myanmar, Laos, China and Thailand are jointly patrolling the waters of the Mekong to tackle the problem of narcotics being transported on its waters.
The boat patrol routinely departs from the Chieng Saen pier in Thailand and progresses to other strategic piers located on the Laotian and Myanmar side of the river.
The patrol extends as far out as the Golden Triangle in order to police and detect narcotic trafficking on the river which worryingly is on the rise.
Most of the time traffickers employ the numerous small villages as storage locations before distribution to other regions.
The Mekong river is regarded as a multinational waterway that flows all the way from southern China passing through Laos, Myanmar and eventually to Thailand which presents narcotics traffickers with a convenient means of transportation.
Also, because of the river has many tributaries policing the trade is proving to be a major headache for authorities in all four countries.
The river flows directly into the vast Esan (northeastern) region of Thailand allowing traffickers easy access into the country.
Authorities estimate that no less than 30 million pills or tablets of narcotics pass through the river every year and this does take into account “Ice” (crystal methamphetamine) or the raw materials used in narcotics production which are also being transported on the river.
Worryingly, statistics now show that in the past 5 year period there has been a continued rise of narcotics activity in all the four countries situated along the Mekong river.
Wang Hong Lu, the head of the intelligence arm of the Chinese Office of the Narcotics Control Board, admitted that there has been a sustained increase of narcotics trafficking in the southern part of the country which borders Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
Crazy pills or known as Yaba and Ice trafficking continue to rise where in the past there were only comparatively small number of heroin being ferried on the river.
He stated that it was for this reason that there is now a joint effort from all four countries to tackle the problem.
The Mekong river is now recognized as not only one of the major sources of the narcotics in the region, but also a critical transportation route used for distribution.
The secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board Permphong Chaovalit said “only through a coordinated effort from all four countries that can tackle the problem.
The river is a major waterway that stretches all the way to the northeast of the region.
Our counterparts in Myanmar have committed to the effort on the western-most part of the river while in the eastern-most part of the river is being policed by the Chinese authorities, he said.
The middle portion of the river is being looked after by Thailand and Laos and this will mean that effectively, we will have a strong strangle-hold on the river.”
He stated that authorities from all four countries are aware that there are several narcotics groups operating in the Mekong River area.
But so far as they can tell, no clear leader has emerged to replace the notorious Nor Kham, the former Mekong river drug-lord who was arrested by Laos and deported to China where he was eventually executed by Chinese authorities two years ago for the shooting to death of 14 Chinese sailors.
Efforts are underway to share intelligence on narcotics among all four countries and will also try to discover dealer networks based in the respective countries.
It is hoped that these efforts will help to stem the drug trade on the Mekong river,he added.