More people are engaged in opium production and more of them, including women and monks, are using drugs in Shan State North, according to local sources and researchers.
“On social occasions, whether religious merit-making, wedding or funerals, where people go until late at night or all night to help, yaba (methamphetamine) is being offered just as plain tea,” said a villager. “To many, it is known as a invigorator and refresher.”
Most of the drug abuse are under the control of People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) set up by the Burma Army, reported researchers.
In Kutkhai, where T. Khun Myat, Kutkhai PMF leader and elected Member of Parliament, researchers had conducted a survey in March.
From ten of the villages they had investigated came the following statistics:
Population (2,080 m, 2,617 f) 4,697
Drug users (1,330 m, 26 f) 1,356 (28.87%)
Poppy acreage 1,571 acres (2.6 acres per household)
Most of the users are ages between15-45. Taxes paid to the PMF and the Burma Army (through PMFs) were: K 100,000 ($ 125) per acre and 10% of the harvest. The price was K 900,000 ($ 1,125) at the farm gate and K 1,200,000 ($ 1,500) downtown.
Earlier, they had also conducted a survey on the Hsenwi (under Kawngkha PMF)-Lashio (under Manpang PMF) township border areas:
Population (6,498 m, 6,881 f) 13,379
Drug users (4,670 m, 1,468 f) 6,133 (45.8%)
Poppy acreage 13,322 (About 1 acre per household)
The worsening drug abuse situation had led to a petition by the monks from Muse, Namkham, Kutkhai and Mantong to Shan State Chief Minister Sao Aung Myat on 24 October 2011 to take Firm action against the trend. “Out of a 40 household village in Mantong, the situation is so bad only two homes remain free from drug abuse,” they wrote.
Retail prices of drugs in these areas:
Opium 12,000 kyat ($ 15) per kyat (16 gm)
Khakhu 3,000 kyat ($ 3,75) per packet
Yaba (high quality) 1,500 kyat ($ 1.88) per pill
Yaba (low quality) 1,200 kyat ($ 1.5) per pill
Heroin 1,000 kyat ($ 1.25) per small straw
Heroin 3,000 kyat ($ 3.75) per big straw
On the Thai-Burmese border in Tachilek, retail prices are much higher:
Yaba (Wa made) 100 baht ($ 3.3) per pill
Yaba (PMF made) 50 baht ($ 1.6) per pill
The Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), known by most people as SSA South, is planning to propose cooperation by governmental agencies, the people, all armed movements and both the regional and international communities against what it calls “the drug menace.”
Out of 55 townships in Shan State, 49 were reported producing opium during the 2011-12 season.