RANGOON, Burma — From its hilltops to the tropics, Asia’s go-to drug is now methamphetamine, USA Today reports. Far more than a party drug, meth is sought by factory hands and office drones alike. Go-getters powering Asia’s economies rely on meth to zap fatigue. Millions seek out its speedy euphoria — a high suited to a region powered by frantic labor.
But a GlobalPost investigation into Asia’s billion-dollar meth underground reveals that this drug isn’t just produced by mere gangsters. Many of the meth trade’s key players are, in fact, armed groups overseen by Burma’s military. Burma, also known as Myanmar, is now soaking up international praise for holding elections that could end decades of tyranny.
All the while, its government is quietly fueling the meth trade. In the series “Asia’s Meth Wars,” GlobalPost reveals how Burma’s army props up militants who flood Asia with cheap, potent meth. Our documentary team traveled to Burma’s northern frontier, where speed pills are cranked out with impunity.
We step into drug dens where men melt pink pills and inhale the fumes. We connect with a former DEA agent who divulges the military’s collusion with narco-militias who produce these drugs.
And we embed with religious vigilantes, armed with bamboo sticks, who are fed up with a meth epidemic enflamed by the army. Our cameras follow ragtag enforcers as they yank drug users from their homes and beat them until they vow to get clean.
While the U.S. celebrates Burma’s much-hyped reforms, “Asia’s Meth Wars” exposes secret links between the government and narco-militias — and reveals how their top product, pink meth, is sowing chaos and misery across the region.