Police from four nations seized 70 suspects and recovered 727 kilograms of heroin as they broke up a drug-trafficking network in Southeast Asia’s notorious Golden Triangle, China’s Ministry of Public Security said Tuesday.
Armed police from China, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) rounded up members of a cross-border syndicate under drug lord Han Yongwan in operations last month, state media quoted Zhang Chongde, deputy director of the ministry’s border forces, as saying.
The suspects were Chinese, Lao and Myanmar (Burmese) nationals, Zhang said.
The police also seized 36 firearms, six rocket launchers, 33 grenades, 1,600 bullets, two-way radios and cash worth some 180,000 dollars.
“It was the biggest heroin-trafficking case jointly cracked by Chinese police and its ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) counterparts over recent years,” Zhang said.
“It was a breakthrough in the fields of information sharing, joint investigation, evidence exchange and operation coordination.”
Zhang said those arrested included Han Yongwan, a Chinese citizen who was the alleged drug lord operating from northern Myanmar.
Han, originally from China’s southwestern border province of Yunnan, “was regarded as one of the most dangerous drug lords in northern Myanmar” in recent years, the agency said.
Chinese police had hunted Han or about 10 years. After Myanmar forces seized 496 kilograms of heroin on September 10, Han and was finally caught in Laos on September 22.
Lao authorities handed over Han to Chinese police on September 28, and Myanmar repatriated two of his main accomplices on Ocotber 2, Zhang said.
The gang also operated in northwestern China’s Gansu province and in the affluent southern province of Guangdong, which is also known as a conduit for smuggling to Hong Kong and further afield.
Chinese police have launched dozens of cross-border operations with Myanmar and Laos in the Golden Triangle of drug production in recent years.
Its southwestern province of Yunnan, which has porous borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, has China’s highest rate of drug use and drug-related crime.
Earlier this year, police arrested 28 foreigners of unspecified nationalities who were caught attempting to smuggle heroin into China from Myanmar through a single border checkpoint.
The Chinese government also on Tuesday announced a campaign to curb drug use in entertainment venues in Beijing, Guangzhou and five more major cities.
“China has seen a surge of narcotics and an increase of drug users, especially in recreation venues like KTV [karaoke] clubs,” the agency quoted Zhang Xinfeng, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, as saying.