The ethnic unrest in adjoining Manipur appears to have led to a spike in the trafficking of drugs and other contraband items in Mizoram from Myanmar.
Both Manipur and Mizoram have been conduits of drug trade from Myanmar and beyond in eastern and southeastern Asia. Traffickers have often used the areas along the Moreh-Sugnu axis in Manipur and the Zokhawthar-Kolasib axis in Mizoram.
But since May 3, when violence broke out in Manipur, the trafficking of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and cannabis, apart from areca nuts and foreign cigarettes, has registered a spike in Mizoram.
Records with the Mizoram Police and other government agencies said the security forces in Mizoram seized contraband from traffickers on 21 instances between May 5 and June 14. These items were worth ₹78.19 crore in the grey market.
Three more cases of seizure of cocaine (1,800 grams) and heroin (701.09 grams) in Bangladesh and Meghalaya on May 15 and 16 had a Mizoram connection.
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In the first of such cases, a Myanmar national named Lalsangliana was arrested from Aizawl for possessing 5.4 kg of methamphetamine worth ₹11 crore. About 1,00,000 methamphetamine pills were also seized from a woman on May 23.
A Myanmar national was also arrested on May 18 from Aizawl’s Zarkawt area for possessing 414 grams of heroin worth ₹2 crore concealed in 33 soap cases.
Besides cocaine and cannabis, the security forces seized 101 bottles of Tuscorex, a banned high-codeine cough syrup; 148 cases of foreign cigarettes; and 61,080 kg of Burmese areca nuts.
“The seizures are an outcome of stronger vigilance and intelligence network,” a senior Mizoram police officer said.
Manipur Police officials, however, did not rule out the possibility of Mizoram “becoming a victim” of shifting of drug trade from the routes in Manipur, blocked because of the ongoing unrest that has claimed more than 150 lives.
“An analysis of these seizures point to Myanmar-linked drug traffickers avoiding Manipur and plying their illegal trade via Mizoram,” a Manipur Police officer said.