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TAILÂNDIA: de base do Triângulo do Ouro para rota de heroína e drogas sintéticas

Por Antony Davis

Thailand drugs smuggling networks reform

Narcotics trafficking networks in Thailand have reformed following the government crackdown of 2003, and new routes are now being used to shift heroin and methamphetamines from Myanmar through Thailand and beyond.

At a heavy cost in human life and government expenditure, Thailand's highly publicised 2003 'war on drugs' severely disrupted trafficking and distribution networks in the Kingdom and resulted in a concurrent slowdown in the volume of amphetamine-type stimulants and heroin being smuggled in from neighbouring Myanmar (Burma).

One year later, however, it is apparent that new networks are developing and the flow of both amphetamine-type stimulants and heroin into the Kingdom is once again on the rise. Addiction rates and seizures are unlikely to return to the crisis levels of the first years of the decade but, short of marked changes in the situation in northeast Myanmar, Thailand has no decisive victory to celebrate.

The war on drugs, which Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawtra personally championed, stretched between February and July 2003 following several years of rising consumption of methamphetamines, known in Thailand as 'ya-ba' (crazy drug). Between the mid 1990s and the early years of the decade, ya-ba, cheaply produced in Myanmar's lawless northeast, expanded from an initial consumer base among migrant sugarcane workers and long-distance truck drivers to find a market at virtually all levels of society.

In its wake, the ya-ba pandemic left a swathe of official corruption, street crime and social disruption. By 2000 it had been defined by the military as Thailand's foremost national security threat. By 2003, a loosely estimated 800 million tablets had been smuggled into Thailand.

The overwhelming bulk of methamphetamine production was undertaken by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a well-organised insurgent force of 20,000 that had expanded its involvement in the drugs trade following the implementation of a ceasefire pact with the Yangon military junta in 1989. The crackdown in the first half of 2003 involved a nation-wide, tri-pronged government campaign focused on education, rehabilitation and, not least, suppression.

During 2003, according to statistics from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), 300,000 individuals went through voluntary and compulsory rehabilitation programmes, dwarfing the figure of 50,000 who had passed through programmes up until that time.

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