UNODC supports Myanmar to protect its borders against transnational organized crime

UNODC supports Myanmar
Handover of BLO equipment from UNODC Country Manager Mr Benedikt Hofmann to Pol. Brig-General Aung Htay Myint, Chief of Division against Transnational Crime, Myanmar Police Force. PHOTO: UNODC

Amidst growing concerns over the strong supply of illicit drugs and cross-border crime in the Golden Triangle, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) yesterday handed a major delivery of equipment aimed at strengthening law enforcement capacities in Myanmar’s border regions. In recent years, a rise in synthetic drug production has reshaped the illicit drug market in Southeast Asia and beyond, feeding a regional methamphetamine market of up to US$61.4 billion annually. Regional transnational organized crime groups play a key role in this business, exploiting growing trade infrastructure and gaps in border security to move illicit goods throughout the region.
UNODC has been working with the Government of Myanmar to address these cross-border criminal activities through the establishment of Border Liaison Offices (BLOs). These offices serve to facilitate effective coordination between the different law enforcement services and, as part of a regional network supported by UNODC, cross-border information sharing and operational coordination.
At the handover, Mr Benedikt Hofmann, who took up his position as UNODC’s Country Manager for Myanmar in August this year, said: “The involvement of organized criminal groups and the shift to synthetic drugs has made finding a response incredibly complex, but effective border security is an important step in the right direction. UNODC is committed to continue supporting Myanmar to strengthen its border management capacities and facilitate cooperation with its neighbours.”
The equipment delivered to the BLOs includes technical tools, such as video borescope inspection cameras, remote fly cams, night vision monoculars, drug and precursor chemical testing kits, covert voice recorders, GPS trackers, and laptop and desktop computers. In addition, UNODC developed and delivered a series of ‘pocket guides’ for frontline officers to interdict different types of illicit activities and info guides on preventing the spread of COVID-19.
As part of a partnership with Japan to address border security in the ASEAN region, UNODC will distribute the packages to the 13 BLO locations in Myanmar. “It is more important than ever for UNODC to assist Myanmar and its neighbours at this difficult time”, Mr Hofmann said. “Seizure patterns show that unlike the formal economy, illicit activities – in particular synthetic drug production – has continued and even grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The handover, which took place at the Myanmar Police Force headquarters, followed a meeting between Mr Hofmann and Major-General Soe Tint Naing, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs, where they discussed general cooperation between Myanmar and UNODC. —UNODC

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