The Karen National Union (KNU) has increased its efforts to destroy marijuana plantations and the selling of illegal drugs by villagers in northern Karen State. A spokesperson from the KNU’s Mutraw District office spoke to Karen News about the drug busting campaign. The KNU spokesperson explained that that the Mutraw District office has ordered local officials to search and eliminate all marijuana in the area and that they believe Lu Taw Township is still a hot spot for marijuana growing.
P’doh Kler Say, the KNU Mutraw District Organization Department secretary, speaking to Karen News said.
“A recent District meeting ordered the township official in Lu Thaw again to search out and eliminate all the remaining marijuana crops growing there. We informed the local people that this drug is banned and order them to stop growing or using it immediately.”
P’doh Kler Say said that it has long been KNU policy to eliminate all illicit drugs such as opium, marijuana and methamphetamine.
“We have already announced that the use and production of drugs are strictly prohibited by the KNU.”
P’doh Kler Say explained to Karen News that the initial drug production was often a result of displacement by Burma Army militarization in the region, but in recent months the price for marijuana has doubled.
“Some villagers who fled the Burma Army and are hiding in the jungle in Pla Ko, Ler Mu Plaw, Kay Pu, Saw Mu Plaw and Na Yo Hta village tracks, begin to grow marijuana two years ago. Traders then came from the town to buy it. First they bought one viss (1.5 kilogram) at around 500,000kyat (around US$513), but now the price has increase to 1,000,000 kyat for one viss (US$1026).”
P’doh Kler Say said.
“At first a few villagers used to grow a small amount of marijuana to feed their buffaloes. Now, some villagers grow the drug as there is no other work for them – and traders pay a good price.”
In 2012 the KNU Mutraw District leaders searched out and destroyed 4,673 marijuana plants (equal to 4,673 viss). A KNU spokesperson pointed out that the drug busting campaign would have been more successful if it were not for two Burma Army camps in the region.
P’doh Kler Say accused the Burmese Army in the area of knowing of the drug smuggling, but do nothing. P’doh Kler Say alleged Burma Army soldiers bought the drug for their personal use.
P’doh Kler Say said that the latest drug busting campaign is the third carried out by the KNU Mutraw leaders in the area. The KNU acknowledged that are isolated areas that they cannot reach that they are still growing drugs.