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Fighting illicit drugs in Myanmar by giving law enforcement better equipment

Yangon (Myanmar), 16 November 2012
- Frontline officers combating the illicit drugs threat in Myanmar are now being equipped to quickly identify illicit drugs and their precursor chemicals - and trained in how to properly use field drug-testing kits - thanks to UNODC.

The production and trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin continue to be a major human security threat in Myanmar. Overwhelmingly manufactured in remote regions of Shan State, illicit drugs from Myanmar continue to be seized in China and Thailand and, to a lesser extent, Lao PDR. Meanwhile, the precursor chemicals necessary to make the illicit drugs are trafficked into Myanmar from neighbouring countries such as China, India, Lao PDR and Thailand.

Officers in the field, however, have thus far not had the resources to be able to swiftly and systematically identify seized substances. This has hampered their ability to detect and interdict the flows of drugs and precursors into and out from Myanmar.

Recognizing this need, the UNODC Global Synthetic Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends (SMART) Programme donated 30 field drug testing kits to the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC). UNODC also provided a one-and-a-half days training on how to use these kits to 25 forensic officials and frontline officers from the Anti-Narcotics Task Forces, National Police Academy and Chemical Examiners' Office. The training was conducted in Yangon at the Myanmar Drug Elimination Museum on 13-14 November 2012.

During the donation ceremony, a UNODC official emphasized the importance of being able to identify all suspected substances in the field.

"Traffickers continue to change their manufacturing and trafficking methods," said Mr. Tun Nay Soe, Programme Coordinator for Global SMART East Asia. "These user-friendly test kits will help frontline officers to identify substances within just a few minutes."

The test kits were received on behalf of the CCDAC by Police Lt. Col. Zaw Lin Tun, Deputy Director of its International Relations Department. "These test kits and training will undoubtedly boost the skills and knowledge of our frontline officers, " he said.

Ms. Yen Ling Wong, Scientific Affairs Officers from UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Section (LSS), led the training sessions.

Police Lieutenant Myint Lwin from Tachileik Anti-Narcotics Task Forces said, "This hands-on training with the testing of real drugs gives us good exposure."

Police Lieutenant Thein Lwin from the Myawaddy Border Liaison Office (BLO) said "These test kits are simple to use. I am sure it will help our work in identifying the suspected substances."

It is expected that the training will enhance the knowledge and skills of frontline officers in identifying illicit drugs, and ultimately in making more successful interdictions in the field.

UNODC drug testing kits provide law enforcement personnel with the means to conduct on-site testing for illicit drugs, including narcotics such as opium and heroin as well as psychotropic substances like amphetamines. UNODC also produces precursor testing kits that help identify precursor chemicals used to manufacture drugs, such as acetic anhydride, which is used to make heroin.


The Global SMART Programme has been implementing activities in Myanmar since 2009. To date, the Programme has held two national workshops to identify priority needs in countering ATS problems, particularly methamphetamine. Global SMART is currently conducting an ATS user survey in collaboration with CCDAC, Ministry of Health, NGOs, Myanmar Anti-Narcotics Association and UNODC Country office in Myanmar.

UNODC launched the Global SMART Programme in September 2008 to enhance the capacity of member states and authorities in East and Southeast Asia to generate, manage, analyse and report synthetic drug information, and to apply this evidence-based knowledge to policy and programme design.

The UNODC Global SMART Programme receives financial support from the Governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and, most recently, the United States.