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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Laos Cracks Down on Drug Trade: Over 10,000 Cases Handled in Five Months

This Week

Laos has made significant progress in combating the growing drug trade, handling over 10,000 drug-related cases since the beginning of the year. Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone revealed these figures in his address to the National Assembly on 10 June.

Sonexay reported that several drug-related operations have been successful, resulting in 1,680 cases being resolved and 2,616 individuals arrested, including 96 foreign nationals.

During the operations, authorities seized significant quantities of illicit substances, including amphetamine, crystal meth, heroin, cannabis, opium, ketamine, and cocaine. In addition to drugs, the police confiscated vehicles, motorcycles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives.

Two major drug busts in Bokeo Province stood out in recent months. On 12 May, provincial authorities in Paktha district arrested two men in possession of over 14 million amphetamine pills. Despite the magnitude of the seizure, further updates regarding their charges and punishment are still pending.

In a similar case on February 12, local police in Ton Pheung district seized 8 million amphetamine pills from a black Toyota Vigo pickup truck. The interception occurred during a joint patrol operation between Nyai Simuang Ngam village and Donethad village. However, the suspect managed to escape capture, wielding a pistol to threaten the police officers.

Beyond drug-related issues, Sonexay also reported on broader security efforts by the Ministry of National Defence and public security officials. The government continues to focus on building strong political foundations, developing village groups as supporting units, and addressing land misuse and encroachment into protected forest areas.

Authorities are also tightening measures against illegal immigration and trade, as well as the pilfering of natural resources in border areas. 

Despite concerted efforts with neighboring countries, Laos continues to struggle with persistent drug smuggling along its borders. On 23 May, border guards in Quang Tri Province, north-central Vietnam, intercepted five individuals from Laos attempting to transport 100 bricks of heroin through the La Lay International Border Gate in Dakrong District.

This incident drew huge criticisms about the effectiveness of border security in Laos, with many questioning how officials could have allowed a vehicle carrying such a substantial amount of narcotics to pass undetected.

Laos may have made significant strides in combating the drug trade, but challenges remain.  particularly in addressing persistent drug smuggling along its borders.

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