1. Myanmar $1.704 Billion


  2. Black Market Crime in Myanmar


Data and information about security threats from Myanmar’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

A man from Myanmar told a reporter from the Associated Press that he was sold by a human trafficking broker to a Thailand fishing boat for $616. The man originally thought that he was going to work on the boat for 6 months, yet ended up working for over a year. During the time, the Burmese man stated that he slept for 3 hours a night.

The seafood industry in Thailand employees 2 million people and is constantly facing a labor shortage. Many Thais do not want to work on the fishing boats where the wages are low, the job is dangerous, and many boats are at sea for months and even years. To meet this shortage, an estimated 200,000 migrants from Cambodia and Myanmar are working on the boats. A 2013 survey of 600 workers conducted by the United Nations found that almost none had signed a labor contract and about 40 percent had their wages cut without explanation.

Nearly 6 out of 10 migrant workers on Thai fishing  boats reported seeing a co-worker killed by the captain, according to a 2009 UN report. The man who was sold by traffickers told the AP that after a sick man died on the boat the captain simply tossed the body overboard.

The fishing industry in Thailand exported nearly $7 Billion worth of seafood in 2013. Most of the seafood was exported to Japan and the United States.

Source:  Associated Press,  “Thailand’s Rampant Trafficking May Carry Price,” ABC News, June 13, 2014.

According to media reports, security agents in Thailand killed at least 69 loggers from Cambodia in 2013 who were attempting to illegally cut down timber in Thailand.

The rate of violence between loggers and security and environmental protection officials in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar have increased in recent years due to the demand for luxury furniture in China. The Siamese rosewood, which is found in the Mekong area, is used to make high-end furniture in China. Between 2000 and 2014, an estimated $2.4 Billion worth of precious timber has been imported to China to meet the demand. The Siamese rosewood is sold for thousands of dollars per cubic meter, with illegal loggers able to make hundreds of dollars per day cutting down the trees.

(All illegal logging statistics.)

Source:  AFP, “China demand for luxury furniture ‘decimating rosewood’,” GlobalPost, May 12, 2014.

A black market passport dealer from Myanmar who was working in Bangkok explained to a reporter about the illegal passport trade in Thailand. According to the dealer, there are three types of passports that are available for sale on the black market: Stolen passports, real passports that the owner is selling in order to make money, and fake passports.

The price of passports in Thailand depends on the issuing country. A passport from Myanmar (Burma) costs between $1,300 to $2,000 (40,000 Thai Baht to 60,000 Baht). Black market passports from European Union countries are available for sale for $2,600 (80,000 baht). The most expensive passports in Thailand are from the United States, which sell for $3,300 (100,000 baht).

(All statistics on fake ids and fake passports.)

Source:  Linn Thant, “Crackdown Under Way on Illicit Thai Passport Trade,” Irrawaddy, March 18, 2014.

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According to data released by criminal justice programs, India is a main supplier of illegal narcotics to countries in South Asia.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) reported that drugs and ingredients from India’s pharmaceutical industry is diverted to the black market. The illicit pharmaceutical pills are either trafficked domestically or smuggled on to the global black market.

In addition to prescription drugs, India provides most of the heroin that is consumed in Bangladesh. Most of the cannabis that is consumed in Bangladesh and Nepal is also produced in India and smuggled across the border.

Most of the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine uses to make meth in Myanmar is believed to have originated from India as well.

The rate of opium seizures in India has grown in the last three years. In 2009, government security agencies seized about 1.7 tonnes of opium in India. In 2012, over 3 tonnes of opium was seized.

14 kilograms of cocaine was seized in India in 2011. In 2012, the amount of cocaine seized tripled to 42 kilograms.

(All prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  “Prescription drug abuse growing in India: UN report,” Indian Express, March 5, 2014.

Between 2009 and 2012, security services in India arrested 820 foreign nationals for drug trafficking crimes. Nearly 80 percent of those arrested came from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal and Nigeria.

In the four year time period, data from criminal justice programs shows that 224 Nepalis were arrested for drug trafficking in India, followed by 191 Nigerians, 173 people from Myanmar and 32 people from Afghanistan.

The top drugs trafficked by the foreign nationals included marijuana and hashish, followed by heroin and cocaine.

Source:  Chethan Kumar, “Papa Joes thrive despite tough measures against drug cartels,” Times of India, December 20, 2013.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 870 metric tons of opium was produced in Myanmar in 2013. The amount produced is 26 percent higher than the 2012 production levels.

Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of opium after Afghanistan, which produced 5,500 metric tons of opium in 2013.

Heroin trafficking and opium has been increasing in East and Southeast Asia, according to the UNODC. In 2010, criminal justice agencies seized 6.5 metric tons of heroin in the region. In 2012, over 9 metric tons were seized. Opium seizures also increased, with 2 metric tons seized in 2010, compared to 2.7 metric tons in 2012.

(Cost to buy heroin per gram worldwide.)

Source:  Associated Press, “UN: Poverty Pushing Myanmar Opium Output Higher,” ABC News, December 18, 2013.

The Myanmar Timber Merchants Association reports that its members lose up to $200 Million per year in revenue due to illegal logging activities.

The timber is illegally cut down and exported to China.

According to environmental security officials, the areas were illegally logging are highly active is in the Kachina and Shan states that are located near the Myanmar-China border.

Source:  “Millions lost in illegal timber trade with China,” Eleven Myanmar, December 4, 2013.

According to figures released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 227 million methamphetamine pills were seized across East and Southeast Asia in 2012. The number of pills seized was a 59 percent increase from the 142 million seized in 2011.

Back in 2007, criminal justice programs seized 25 million pills across East and Southeast Asia.

102.2 million meth pills in 2012 were seized in China, followed by Thailand with 95.3 million meth pills seized, and Myanmar had 18.2 million pills seized.

(Price of Meth by country.)

Source:  Associated Press, “UN Says Asia Meth Seizures Hit Highs in 2012,” ABC News, November 8, 2013.

According to government statistics, over 43 million kilograms of jade was produced in Myanmar during the fiscal 2011 to 2012 year. Based on a conservative estimate by Reuters, the jade would have been worth $4.3 Billion. Less than 1 percent, or $34 Million worth of jade was officially reported to have been exported out of the country.

Financial and security analysts claim that nearly half of the jade ends up being smuggled into China. The jade is smuggled by truck through territory controlled by the Myanmar military or the Kachin Independence Army. Both groups collect a tax from the smuggled jade from black market sales that contributes to the conflict between the military and the KIA.

Source:  Andrew R.C. Marshall and Min Zayar Oo, “Special Report: Myanmar old guard clings to $8 billion jade empire,” Reuters, September 29, 2013.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) consume 70 percent of all the heroin that is abused in the East Asia and Pacific Region.

Up to 65 tonnes of heroin is used by addicts in China each year. In order to meet the demand, 90 percent of all heroin that is produced in the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) is trafficked to China. Laos has also begun increasing its opium production, with an increase of 66 percent of opium farming taking place in the country in 2011.

Criminal justice and public health programs in China have officially registered 1.2 million heroin addicts in the country.

(Price of heroin by country.)

Source:  David Elmer, “It’s happy hour for the heroin traffickers of the Golden Triangle,” South China Morning Post, September 26, 2013.