Source : Far Eastern Economic Review, May 18, 2000

Burmese troops across the border from northern Thailand have been ordered by Rangoon to "live off the land," a command implying permission to become involved in the drugs trade, according to a senior Thai army source. Burmese soldiers are posted along the border ostensibly to handle rebellion by ethnic minorities and crack down on smuggling with Thailand.

The Thai military source says the troops' sole source of income is facilitating the flow of methamphetamines and heroin across the border. Thai anti-narcotics officials estimate that a total of 600 million methamphetamines will be channelled from factories in Burma across the border this year. Police intercepted 45 million tablets in 1999. Burmese authorities have told their Thai counterparts they cannot control minority communities such as the Wa, who are known to be deeply involved in the drugs trade.