China continues drug clampdown near Kachin rebel headquarters

Smugglers with more than 23 kilos of opium arrested

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 11:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Yunnan border guards say they have arrested drug smugglers attempting to carry more than 23 kilograms of drugs in the county that borders the makeshift capital of the Kachin Independence Army, the last ethnic guerilla force fighting the civilianized military regime in Myanmar. 

On Friday, border guards arrested two smugglers with 5kg of opium near Yinjiang County, only days after catching another smuggler with 17kg

In the last two months, Chinese border police and the military have put new emphasis on securing the porous border as the smuggling of narcotics has reached unprecedented levels.

Earlier this month, some 3.7 tonnes of unprocessed opium poppy were publicly incinerated in Yingjiang.

Yunnan border guards confiscated some five tonnes of narcotics last year, marking a 44 per cent increase compared to the previous year. Some 418 tonnes of percursor chemicals were seized, 101 per cent more than in 2011.

The county's sleepy, but heavily militarized Nabang village borders Laiza, the civilian headquarters of the Kachin rebels. 

When Myanmese troops shelled Laiza in January, they unintentionally also hit Nabang. The shelling caused a strong Chinese rebuke resulting in an even stronger military presence in the border village. 

The arrests come days ahead of new round of peace talks between the Myanmese government and the guerilla force at a hotel in the Chinese border hub Ruili. China has hosted several rounds of peace talks between the two parties, which have returned to war in June 2011 after nearly two decades of ceasefire.