Drug Raids Reveal 'Unprecedented' Fentanyl Production

Asian syndicates might be treating pandemic as a 'business opportunity'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2020 7:05 PM CDT
Disturbing Find Made in Myanmar Drug Raids
Smoke and flames billow from burning narcotics during a destruction ceremony on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar.   (AP Photo/Thein Zaw, File)

Raids on clandestine labs in Myanmar resulted in drug seizures that were "truly off the charts," authorities say. AFP reports that the raids on dozens of labs in remote Shan state between February and April unearthed hundreds of pounds of heroin and raw opium, along with the largest quantities of synthetic drugs ever seized in Southeast Asia. More than 1,100 pounds of crystal methamphetamine was seized, along with 200 million methamphetamine tablets. But authorities say the most disturbing find was nearly a thousand gallons of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid linked to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the US alone. Investigators believe production of synthetic drugs has flourished in the area following a crackdown in China.

"Organized crime and drug syndicates look for business environments where there’s government dysfunction or limited government control, as well as easy access to the chemicals," says Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Southeast Asia. "Shan State hits every mark." Counternarcotics officials say this is by far the largest fentanyl find ever made in the region, which already dominates meth production. Authorities believe the fentanyl was likely destined for the US, which is the biggest market for the drug, the New York Times reports. Douglas warns that Asian crime syndicates might see the coronavirus "as a business opportunity to move in on Mexican syndicates" and take over the North American market. (Read more fentanyl stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.