Myanmar's political turmoil has resulted in an "increase in smuggling activities" in Mizoram, as well as an increase in the seizure of contraband and exotic animal species in the northeastern state, officials said on September 18.
A state government's data revealed the volume of heroin recovered by the excise department and the state police jumped from 20.36 kilograms in 2020 to 34.52 kg last year.
Between January and May of this year, 19.81 kg of heroin was confiscated, and 374 people were detained for allegedly possessing the drug.
The volume of drugs and other smuggled goods, such as exotic wild animals, dried areca nuts, and Burmese cigarettes, recovered by law enforcement agencies has "increased substantially since the military seized power in the neighbouring country in February last year," the excise and narcotics department official said on condition of anonymity.
"There is no doubt that the Myanmar political crisis has led to the significant increase in trafficking of drugs, especially heroin, from Myanmar to India via Mizoram," he said.
Some of the arrested Myanmar nationals were found to get involved in smuggling activities recently, the official said, adding that efforts from various state agencies are on to apprehend the kingpins of smuggling rackets.
"Many Myanmar people are rendered jobless and have no stable sources of income due to the current political crisis there. Many of them were lured into smuggling activities," the official said.
With the surge in heroin supply, the drug's price has dropped, with "one 'hawng' of the narcotics material (hawng is a local measurement equal to roughly 13-14 grams) now available for Rs 15,000-18,000, when it was previously offered on the local market for Rs 35,000," he claimed.
Mizoram Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) John Neihlaia also stated that the increase in the number of seizures and the drop in heroin prices are both related to the Myanmar issue.
The number of Myanmar citizens apprehended with narcotics by state police has climbed from 12 in 2021 to 35 in 2022 (through August). "Three of the 35 persons detained this year were refugees residing in state assistance centres," Neihlaia added.
According to state Home Minister Lalchamliana, 30,401 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the international border and sought refuge in the northeastern state since the military of Myanmar ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's democratic administration there in February last year.
According to Neihlaia, the state police only seized a huge portion of contraband in 2021, including 15.79 kg of heroin and 153.77 kg of Methamphetamine tablets worth Rs 51.83 crore.
Till September 16 this year, the state police have recovered various drugs, including 22.93 kg of heroin and 101.26 kg of Methamphetamine tablets, with a total value of Rs 39 crore, according to the data.
"Some drug rackets are operating from outside the state and enticed many Mizos into smuggling groups. Many of the locals, who had earlier wanted to give up such illegal activities, are being lured," she said.
Champhai district in eastern Mizoram, which shares a border with Myanmar, has replaced Manipur's Moreh as the main transit route for smuggled commodities, especially wildlife animals. Mizoram and the neighbouring countries have a 510-kilometer porous border.
Despite massive efforts by law enforcement agencies, including Assam Rifles, smugglers have managed to enter Mizoram, he added.
The significant increase in smuggling activities in the state has also prompted the central committee of the Young Mizo Association to form an anti-drug squad on September 9.
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