Friday, June 26 marked the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, continuing the tradition since 1989 ever since the United Nations initiated it. Thailand and Myanmar burned billions of dollars in seized drugs to add on to this endeavor.
Recently, officials in Thailand and Myanmar destroyed 25 tons of illicit drugs which equates to more than US$2 billion. Such drastic measures were implemented because illicit drug trade has been prevalent in Thailand. The trading route among Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos—South-East Asia’s Golden Triangle—has facilitated drug trafficking within these neighboring regions.
Thailand is still considered a haven for drug smugglers and producers because the vast mountainous regions allow for trading routes that are not heavily regulated. Wide ranges of drugs, such as methamphetamine, marijuana, opium, or heroin, were seized by anti-narcotics officials in Phuket, bearing evidence of the widespread drug usage in Thailand.
The mass incineration of drugs was conducted in a swift manner as police officials unloaded guarded boxes of drugs and launched them into dumpsters. The confiscated narcotics were soon in flames and the public spotted the sky filled with black smoke due to the burning. Although there have been concerns about air pollution and public health, authorities have alleviated such apprehensions by claiming that immediate burning does not affect the atmosphere.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic altered the state of the drug trade as well. Yet, some delinquents are taking advantage of these circumstances. Though travel ban due to coronavirus has limited drug trade, smuggling activities have been prevalent. Online drug sales have emerged as a new issue means of the drug trade, exacerbating the current drug war in Thailand.
During this period of uncertainty, the mass incineration of drugs betrayed the public’s determination to combat illicit drugs. Thus, officials are making an effort to combat narcotic drugs and enhance Thailand’s communal wellbeing.