Written by U Ne Oo on 1999-11-17

Burmese Heroin seizures in Australia

(with reports from AAP, AFP and Far Eastern Economics Review)

Australian Police in last few months have made very large amount of heroin seizures. In October 1998, 400 kg of heroin valued AU$ 400 million were seized at Australian eastern coast. And just last week 200 kg of heroin worth A$200 million being seized from a shipping container (see AAP report below).

Last years' seizure of 400 kg was traced-back to the heroin produced in Burmese Golden triangle. The ship that brought heroin to Australia had reportedly picked-up its heroin consignment at a Burmese port in thet in the Bay of Bangal.

According to following reports, recent batch of heroin comes through Indonesia. Australian police are reported to be testing the chemical trace to determine the origin of heroin. However, from what I saw from TV footage, the plastic packets looks Chinese/Eastern Design and the blocks were marked "999": these heroin most likely to have come from Golden Triangle of Eastern Burma.

Though being efficient, the efforts by international law enforcement agencies are rather futile in stemming the tide ohe tide of heroin influx from Burma. This is because Burmese heroin are not only produced in a massive scale but also being delivered with "military efficiency" to its customers. Only way to tackle this problem is at its source of production: the opium-poppy fields in Shan State.

To reduce opium cultivation, there reported to be a small pilot-project for crop substitution by UNDCP in Shan State. Unfortunately, with current political climate, the UNDCP's crop substitution program is not appropriate one-- at least for the shrot teshrot term. An alternative scheme (aerial-spraying) to tackle this heroin problem has already been suggested in March of this year. Still, I haven't see any sign of movement on that front. Our friends, please help wake the Clinton Administration up on this matter.

-- Regards, U Ne Oo.


By John Kidman, Crime Reporter

SYDNEY, Nov 8 AAP-- Two Singaporean men are behind bars following the second largest heroin seizure in Australian history, with almost 220kg of the banned narcotic found secreted in a false-bottomed shipping container.

The haul--with an estimated street value of more than $200 million --was discovered by Sydney customs officials last month.

However, the pair were not arrested until yesterday when police claim one of the accused attempted to retrieve the drugs at a western Sydney warehouse.

The man, a 51-year-old "fruit and vegetable importer" has been charged with attempting to posses a prohibited import.

Along with his 47-year-old co-accuseaccused, he also faces one count of being knowingly concerned with the importation of the same.

It is believed at least one of the men was identified as a person of interest by joint taskforce investigators as far back as December 1998.

At the time his name was linked to the discovery of another false-bottomed container found abandoned in a street at Marrickville, iville, in Sydney's inner-west.

Suspicions were aroused that the container had, at some stage, been used to import drugs, detectives said today.

A high level investigation began involving Australian Customs, Australian Federal Police (AFP), New South Wales Police, the National Crime Authority (NCA) and the NSW Crime Commission.

According to facts tendered in Central Local Court today customs officers intercepted a second suspicious contained linked to the suspect, at Port Botany, on October 21 this year. While its indonesian-consiged cargo had been listed as consisting of 29 pallets of wooden flooring materials, only 13 such pallets were found.

"Further examination by customs officers revealed a false floor beneath which which was a total of 622 blocks, each weighing 350g, totaling approximately 219.17 kg of heroin," police said.

It is alleged both accused men arrived in Australia from Singapore on October 6.

According to the AFB facts sheet, the pair claimed they were travelling alone.

However, they wehey were allegedly found to have stayed together in a room at Chinatown's Furama Hotel before moving to an inner-city apartment.

Police allege one of the men then arranged for the container to be trucked to a rented warehouse at west-suburban Hoxton Park.

He was also witnessed over the past week purchasing a number of items to be used in the removal of the conthe container's false floor, including three jemmy bars and a socket set.

It is alleged that man took deliver of a forklift at the warehouse on Friday, before being arrested in the act of dismantling the fake floor yesterday.

His co-accused was apprehended in a simultaneous raid on the Chinatown hotel.

>Federal police today alleged the men were "fairly high-up" players within a major syndicate.

Justice and Customs Minister Amanda Vanstone said the impact of the seizure may not be immediate but would eventually be felt.

"This is a massive amount of heroin which has been stopped from reaching the streets of this country," she told journalists.

It equates to more than four million hits of the drug which could have circulated in the community, putting thousands of lives at risk."

AFP Commissioner Mick Palmer will brief Interpol delegates on the haul at a meeting of the organisation's general assembly in Seoul today.

Meanwh>Meanwhile, both accused men have been remanded in custody to reappear in Central Local Court on December 20. AAP jk/sb/rds

AFP (15/11/99)



AFP, Jakarta, 15 November 1999. At least 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of heroin pours into ours into Indonesia every month, most of it by courier from the Golden Triangle countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, a report said Monday.

The Indonesian Observer quoted Colonel Wilhelmus Laturete, the head of the National Police drugs and narcotics division as saying the figures were obtained from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The DEA information indicated tcated that at least one member of an international drug syndicate entered Indonesia daily carrying around 1.5 kilograms of heroin, and in some cases three people daily carrying a total of 4.5 kilograms of the narcotic.

That information tallied with drug seizures made at Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta international airport, Laturete said.

"When we interrogate the suspects thects they always say that it is not the first time they have entered through SH airport. Many even inform us that they have acted as couriers at least three or four times with payments of up to 6,000 dollars for each trip," he said.

He added that once in the country, the drugs were carried by local couriers to different cities and bar and nightclub distribution points, and that his force needed more sophisticated detecting equipmnent and personnel.

The Observer quoted customs and police sources as saying that around 15 kilograms of heroin was seized in Indonesia monthly.

It also quoted national police chief Rusmanhadi (Eds: one name) as saying stern action had been taken against police in East Java found to be involved in drug sales and distribution.

In addition to the estimated 480,000 heroin users in the country (based on a figure of one gram per user per month), ecstacy pills, amphetamines, marijuana and cocaine were also entering the country in large quanities, the Observer said.

Those drugs were sent by "certain individuals" through air cargo shipments and by mail from Nigeria, Thailand and Singapore and packed in a way that fooled police dogs, the Obshe Observer said.

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By Bertil Lintner in Sydney

Australia has energed as a major destination for Burmese narcotics. Australian police say a plentiful supplul supply of heroin has led to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths among the nation's estimated 45,000 addicts. They say as many as 1,000 people could die this year from heroin overdoses--40 % more than in 1998. Now amphetamines from Burma are also reaching Australia.

The volume of the drug traffic was made apparent last October (1998), when Australian authorities seized 400 kilograms of pure heroin off the northern coast of New South Wales. The recohe record haul, almost three times the amount of heroin seized in all of Australia in 1997, had an estimated street value of A$400 million ($255 million). Australian Federal Police sources say the drugs originated in the Burmese area of the Golden Triangle.

Police say rising production of heroin in northern Burma has led to a decline in wholesale and street prices in Australia. The lower prices, in turn have led many dealers to stop diluting their htheir heroin, creating a much purer and deadlier product. A kilogram of pure heroin now costs less than A$100,000 in Australia, down from A$200,000 just five years ago. On the streets of Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb that is now the hub of the drug trade on Australia's east coast, a 20-milligram capsule of heroin costs between A$l5 and A$20, down from A$30 last year.

Exactly how much heroin is available in Australia isn't known. But the limited impact mpact on heroin prices after the October seizure unnerved narcotics experts. "We expected a shortage in the streets of Cabramatta, and therefore an increase in the price of heroin," says Lisa Maher, a criminologist at the University of New South Wales and an expert on the drug trade. " but it had no impact at all. Prices remained the same, There's just so much of it around."

Recently, Australian police made their first seizure of amphetamies from B from Burma. Details of the consignment remain sketchy, but a senior Australian Federal Police officer says it consisted of the small, round yaa baa pills that are flooding into northern Thailand from Burma.

Given the vast sums of money that drug trade generates and a profusion of smuggling routes, Australian narcotics officials say they fear Thai government efforts to stem the flow of drug out of Burma may have little effect.

Burmese heorin seizure in Australia