Drugs worth more than 2.5 billion yuan (HK$3.1 billion) have been seized in a two-month multinational operation targeting crime along the Mekong River, China's drug enforcement chief said yesterday.
Since late April, authorities from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have been sharing intelligence and hunting drug lords and fugitives.
The operation resulted in the detention of 2,534 suspects and the seizure of almost 10 tonnes of drugs and more than US$3.6 million in drug-related assets, said Liu Yuejin, director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.
The four countries began joint security patrols on the Mekong River in late 2011 after the grisly murders of 13 Chinese sailors in the Golden Triangle region, notorious for drug production and trafficking and extortion gangs.
In March, China executed the ringleader, Myanmar citizen Naw Kham, and three accomplices after they were found guilty of the murders.
Liu told a news conference also attended by representatives from Laos, Myanmar and Thailand that following the trial and execution of Naw Kham, they had seen a "dramatic decline" in the activities of drug rings and criminals in the Mekong region and Golden Triangle.
Their success has been seen in tighter supplies and higher prices for drugs in China and Thailand, he said. "This shows that the demand for drugs has far exceeded the supply of drugs.
"This is because criminal rings and individuals during that time were afraid of carrying out high-profile activities," he said.
Liu said 60 to 70 per cent of the drugs in China come from the Golden Triangle, where methamphetamine production is surging even as that of opium and heroin has been suppressed.
Liu said that in the future, the four countries would work toward poppy eradication in the Golden Triangle, northern Laos and northern Myanmar.