Malaysia coast guard busts record methamphetamine shipment, possibly smuggled from Golden Triangle

PHOTO: New Strait Times

Malaysia’s coast guard made its largest bust, seizing more than 2 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine that was hidden in packets of Chinese tea. The shipment of illegal drugs, worth 105.9 million ringgit, or 789 million baht, is part of a large-scale drug trade across Southeast Asia, China and Australia.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director general, Mohamad Zubil Mat Som, says the coast guard noticed a recreational boat moving “suspiciously” off Penang island. The coast guard followed the boat, which turned into a chase when the 26 year old Malaysian driver, the only occupant on the boat, refused to stop.

The driver jumped off the boat. The coast guard later found the man and arrested him. There is a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers in Malaysia.

The coast guard say they found 2.12 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine hidden in packets of Chinese tea, the largest bust in the maritime agency’s 15 year history. Drug shipments busted by the maritime agency in the past were disguised in similar tea packaging. Officials are still investigating to determine where the drugs were shipped from, but Mohamad suspects it came from Myanmar because of the writing on the packaging.

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“It is highly possible that the crystal methamphetamine was smuggled from Myanmar’s Golden Triangle.”

Southeast Asian regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Jeremy Douglas, says the region needs to step up and think ahead to prevent future drug shipments.

“As big as two-plus tonnes is – and it’s massive – the syndicates that run the drug trade in Asia can easily replace shipments like this… The region needs a forward looking strategy that addresses root causes if they ever hope to get ahead of the situation.”

SOURCE: Reuters| AFP

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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