By AFP

KUALA LUMPUR — A US travel ban on Myanmar’s army chief and three other top officers for their role in orchestrating a crackdown against Rohingya Muslims does not go far enough, a UN rights investigator said Thursday.

The sanctions announced Tuesday were the strongest censure yet from a Western power since the army launched its offensive against the stateless minority in August 2017 following attacks on police posts.

Secretary of State Mr Mike Pompeo said army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the other officers were responsible for human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings during the “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya when more than 740,000 were driven into Bangladesh.

But the United Nations Special Rapporteur to Myanmar, Ms Yanghee Lee, said the US move “does not go far enough, it should go further”. 

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Lee, during a visit to Malaysia, criticised the sanctions as unrealistic, saying that the officers were unlikely to travel to the US anyway.

Washington should go further by seizing their assets, and those of their families, and extending the sanctions to cover other senior commanders, she said.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as one of its many official ethnicities, insisting they are interlopers from Bangladesh.

The US, Canada and the European Union have previously passed sanctions against members of the powerful military, but stopped short of reaching the very top of leadership.

But rights groups and UN investigators have called for stronger action against Min Aung Hlaing, including international prosecution for genocide.

Pompeo said in his statement that the US remains concerned the Burmese government had taken no action against rights violators.

He cited the “egregious” example of the release of soldiers who massacred 10 Rohingya Muslims.

The soldiers spent only a few months in prison, less time than two Reuters journalists who exposed the massacre and were behind bars for more than 500 days on state secrets charges.

A Myanmar military spokesman criticised the sanctions, saying they harm the armed forces’ dignity. 

By AFP

BANGKOK — Southeast Asia’s drug gangs are making over US$60 billion a year pumping out record amounts of methamphetamine, then laundering the profits through the region’s mushrooming number of casinos, a UN study showed Thursday.

Crime groups are also piggybacking on improved infrastructure to hustle Made-In-Myanmar meth to neighbouring drug markets, and as far as Australia and Japan, the report said.

The study, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), warned this was sending street prices tumbling and spurring an addiction crisis.

“[A] safe, conservative estimate of over $60 billion a year,” is being hoovered up by the meth lords of Southeast Asia alone, Mr Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC’s regional representative, told reporters in Bangkok at the report’s launch.

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Seizures of methamphetamine – both the caffeine-cut ‘yaba’ tablets and the much more addictive and potent crystal meth or ‘ice’ version – had tripled over the last five years, according to the report.

Last year 120 tonnes (120,000 kilogrammes) of meth was seized in East and Southeast Asia, up from around 40 tonnes in 2013, the report said.

The figures were based on drug seizure figures and regional police intelligence.

Much of the meth is originating from the labs of remote and lawless northern Shan State in Myanmar, which has rebooted the ‘Golden Triangle’ drug trade from its staple of heroin.

“This region is the epicentre of the global synthetic drug trade,” Douglas said.

Around $10 billion annually continues to be made from Golden Triangle heroin, with China the world’s largest market, according to the report.

But meth is the new cash cow.

The study shows increasingly sophisticated and diverse drug gangs are shuttling it across Asia – cooked by Taiwanese chemists, orchestrated by shadowy financiers from Thailand, Macau and China, and run by Myanmar producers who brand their ‘ice’ in tea-packages.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs from Australia and New Zealand are getting in on the act moving massive shipments from Southeast Asia to their domestic markets, where the price surges, the “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact” study added.

The illicit billions are being cleaned in the increasing number of casinos springing up across the Mekong area – from Myanmar, Laos to Cambodia, according to the study. 

“The producers and traffickers that dominate launder through cash based businesses like casinos, hotels, as well as real estate,” Douglas added.

The report also said tens of billions of dollars were being spun from counterfeit medicines, clothes and cigarettes, as well as the illegal wildlife and timber trade and human trafficking.

Thailand sits at the heart of Mekong area, with hard to police land and sea borders making it a sluice for drugs, wildlife and counterfeit goods.

By AFP

BANGKOK — Southeast Asia’s drug gangs are making over US$60 billion a year pumping out record amounts of methamphetamine, then laundering the profits through the region’s mushrooming number of casinos, a UN study showed Thursday.

Crime groups are also piggybacking on improved infrastructure to hustle Made-In-Myanmar meth to neighbouring drug markets, and as far as Australia and Japan, the report said.

The study, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), warned this was sending street prices tumbling and spurring an addiction crisis.

“[A] safe, conservative estimate of over $60 billion a year,” is being hoovered up by the meth lords of Southeast Asia alone, Mr Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC’s regional representative, told reporters in Bangkok at the report’s launch.

Seizures of methamphetamine – both the caffeine-cut ‘yaba’ tablets and the much more addictive and potent crystal meth or ‘ice’ version – had tripled over the last five years, according to the report.

Last year 120 tonnes (120,000 kilogrammes) of meth was seized in East and Southeast Asia, up from around 40 tonnes in 2013, the report said.

The figures were based on drug seizure figures and regional police intelligence.

Much of the meth is originating from the labs of remote and lawless northern Shan State in Myanmar, which has rebooted the ‘Golden Triangle’ drug trade from its staple of heroin.

“This region is the epicentre of the global synthetic drug trade,” Douglas said.

Around $10 billion annually continues to be made from Golden Triangle heroin, with China the world’s largest market, according to the report.

But meth is the new cash cow.

The study shows increasingly sophisticated and diverse drug gangs are shuttling it across Asia – cooked by Taiwanese chemists, orchestrated by shadowy financiers from Thailand, Macau and China, and run by Myanmar producers who brand their ‘ice’ in tea-packages.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs from Australia and New Zealand are getting in on the act moving massive shipments from Southeast Asia to their domestic markets, where the price surges, the “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact” study added.

The illicit billions are being cleaned in the increasing number of casinos springing up across the Mekong area – from Myanmar, Laos to Cambodia, according to the study.

“The producers and traffickers that dominate launder through cash based businesses like casinos, hotels, as well as real estate,” Douglas added.

The report also said tens of billions of dollars were being spun from counterfeit medicines, clothes and cigarettes, as well as the illegal wildlife and timber trade and human trafficking.

Thailand sits at the heart of Mekong area, with hard to police land and sea borders making it a sluice for drugs, wildlife and counterfeit goods.