One of unintended side effects of the Burma Army’s offensive against the Shan State Army (SSA) North as well as the Shan State Army (SSA) South campaign against Burma Army supported People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) last year was the displacement of refineries in Shan State South as well as skilled chemists working there, according to sources from Shan State East.
As a result of their re-employment with the PMFs in Shan State East, the quality of heroin there has increased significantly. “We used to say Markkieng and Nayai PMFs (in Namzang townships) produced #1 quality Kheptin (slippers, slang for heroin blocks) until a few monthly back,” one of businessmen in Monghsat to SHAN. “No more. The quality of Kheptin produced in Tang Hseng (in Monghsat township), Punako (also in Monghsat township) and Nampong (Tachilek township) has become just as high. Even the Wa recognize the fact.”
The Burma Army, from March to August 2011, had launched an offensive against the SSA North that had refused to be transformed into a PMF. The offensive was reinforced by constructions of chain fortifications by the newly formed Central Eastern Region Command, the 4th regional army in Shan State.
The SSA South in the meanwhile had been warring against PMFs, particularly those that had actively taken part in the Burma Army’s campaigns against it. One outcome was the seizure of cooked opium, #3 heroin, precursors and paraphernalia used in the manufacturing of #4 heroin, at the main base of Wanpang PMF in Laikha township in December.
The result was the migration of refineries and chemists into Shan State East, where the SSA is less active.
“The Wa may still be #1 when it comes to Ice (crystal methamphetamine) and yaba (methamphetamine pills),” said another businessman coming from Kengtung. “But Lahu PMFs have now emerged as #1 in heroin.”