Police Pinpoint Drugs As A Major Social Problem

The heads of provincial police from across the country pinpointed Laos’ drug abuse epidemic as a major social problem at their annual meeting yesterday, coming together in an attempt to address the issue.

The two-day meeting which concludes today, was held between the heads of the provincial police headquarters and General Police Department, under the Ministry of Public Security, to review police work over the past year and plan future country-wide operations.

Department Director General, Brigadier General Police Sisavath Keomalavong addressed over 130 attendees at the meeting, saying that drugs are a major issue in Laos today which must be stopped as soon as possible.

“Drugs have become a serious problem in our country adding to the crimes occurring in Laos, so we should find a way to fight against this issue in the near future. This meeting will firstly focus on this social problem in Laos,” he said.

According to the department’s records, there were 1,319 reported drug-related offences committed nationwide in 2013 and police arrested 1,971 people including 40 foreigners on drug-related charges.

Brigadier General Police Sisavath Keomalavong.

In the same year officials seized criminal evidence including 265kg of heroin, some 15. 6 million amphetamines (yabaa) tablets weighing some 1,500 kgs, 89kg of opium, 5,300kg of marijuana, 26kg of crystal methamphetamine or ice, 112kg of chemical precursors and 10.5kg of cocaine.

Officials also seized two machines used to manufacture heroin and two machines used to manufacture amphetamines tablets. Also connected to drug-related crimes were the seizure of 58 guns, 154 motorcycles, 72 cars and four boats, along with 464 million kip, more than 16 million Thai baht, US$470,000 and more than 732 million Vietnamese dong.

Department Deputy Director General, Colonel Dr Phengsavanh Thipphavongxay said during 2013, officials facilitated several cross-country anti-drug and drug awareness campaigns targeting students, workers and the broader public. These campaigns were also heavily promoted in the media.

“As well as these educational campaigns, we also investigated and targeted dealers and manufacturers of drugs, many of whom were arrested,” Col. Dr Phengsavanh said.

The meeting also highlighted other major criminal findings over 2013, including the 5,406 road accidents that occurred across the country resulting in 8,892 injuries and 818 deaths. Vientiane was the site of the most traffic incidents with 1,415 road accidents in which 167 people were injured and 38 people killed.

“Road accidents have also emerged as a major problem in Laos, and officials worked hard on campaigns to increase driver awareness and reduce the problem,” Col. Dr Phengsavanh said.

The meeting also reported there were 677 motorcycles stolen, 559 economic crimes, 101 cases of human trafficking and one environmental case in Laos.

Brig. Gen. Sisavath said the meeting was an opportunity for provincial officials to speak directly about crimes and problems in their regions an d generate possible solutions in a group forum, as usually most communication is conducted by remote correspondence.

The meeting also reviewed achievements in each police sector and continued cooperation with neighbouring countries.

Source: Vientiane Times