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Navy arrests on Naf River mark another drug bust in Maungdaw

The suspects involved in two drug busts in Maungdaw Township on Tuesday are pictured with the seized narcotics. (Photo: Supplied)

The Burmese Navy in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township yesterday seized more than 180,000 yaba pills on the Naf River bordering Bangladesh.

According to Maungdaw police, a Burmese Navy boat patrolling along the river in the early hours of Monday morning spotted a suspicious looking rowboat with five men aboard and signalled for it to pull over for an inspection. The men reportedly ignored the order and began paddling away in their boat, prompting the troops to fire warning shots in an attempt to force them to stop.

Four men on the boat — Rah Zein, Nuha Khan, Abdul Shaku and Maumad Essad — all from Maungdaw’s Shweza (central) village, were detained with 185,000 yaba pills found on board the boat, with an estimated street value of about 370 million kyats ($270,000). The fifth suspect, however, identified as Maumad Elias of Shweza (west) village, managed to flee the arrest.

Police said the detainees were transferred to local law enforcement officials by the Navy and are facing charges under Burma’s anti-narcotics law.

In a separate incident also on Monday, Maungdaw police busted a resident in the village of Ngahkuya in possession of over 9,700 yaba pills.

“Around 7am on [Monday], police officials accompanied by local informers searched the house of the Ngakhuya village resident named Maung Hla Win, also known as Maumad Riyaz, and found 9,750 yaba pills — estimated street value around 19.5 million kyats — wrapped in a newspaper hidden under a desk,” said Maungdaw Police Superintendent Kyaw Mya Win.

The officer said Maung Hla Win has been charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law for illegal possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

Maungdaw and neighbouring Buthidaung townships have played host to several large drug busts in recent months, including a haul in February of 4.6 million yaba pills found inside a monastery in the town of Maungdaw. The abbot of the Shwe Baho Monastery was detained in connection with the discovery.