Police are to mount a crackdown in four Yangon Region townships to restore the rule of law in what have been deemed crime black spots. The regional parliament announced the plan yesterday, identifying targets as drug trafficking, gambling, protection rackets and illegal massage parlours.

Officers will patrol Hlaing Tharyar, South Dagon, Kamaryut and Thanlyin townships in “vice squads” in a bid to cut crime figures, said Colonel Tin Aung Tun, the security and border affairs minister for the region. Addressing parliament, the minister revealed his plans.

“We will occupy the entire township of Hlaing Tharyar with a view to making arrests of people engaged in criminal conduct,” he said.

The crackdown comes as 13 MPs had demanded immediate action over drug trafficking into Yangon Region. U Kyaw Kyaw Tun, MP for Hlaing township, said young people were at risk from narcotics, and most were already using tobacco.

“The sale of cigarettes and betel near schools and universities has been banned, but they are still being sold,” he said.

The security minister responded that narcotics abuse was a matter of concern for all, and everybody shared the responsibility to prevent illegal trade in drugs to young people.

Since January, 689 people have been arrested for possession of drugs, 1050 for selling alcohol without a licence, seven people for running illegal massage parlours and two people for human trafficking.

“Drug trafficking will not disappear in our country as long as there are ethnic armed groups,” said Col Tin Aung Tun. He added that 362 arrests had been made for illegal gambling and K30 million seized from gambling joints.

Police have also arrested 1133 escapees from prisons and labour camps, as well as military absconders and deserters, since January.

Parliament heard that drug lords exported heroin and amphetamines from Shan State to Bangladesh and Thailand, and “ice” or methamphetamine from northern Shan State was smuggled across the border, while drugs were also exported to Bangladesh.

Myanmar is considered the hub of drug production for the region, with seizures in Thailand, Bangladesh and China all sourcing back to the country.

Myanmar remains the second-largest producer of opium in the world, but is also increasingly involved in the production of synthetic drugs like “ice”, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

In a record seizure, police netted US$106 million worth of methamphetamine tablets in a single raid in Mingaladon township last year.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/yangon/20844-yangon-region-vice-squads-to-crack-down-on-criminal-conduct.html