Border jade traders opt for drug trade in Burma

In a role reversal, an increasing number of jade traders in northern Burma, who relied on jade markets on the Sino-Burma border, are turning to illicit drug trade, said local sources.

This is especially true for smaller jade businessmen, traders and brokers who sell jade in markets in China’s southwest Yunnan province, bordering Burma. They are switching from their business of jade and turning to illicit drug trade, said sources close to them.

The main reason for this switchover is that the Chinese border jade markets have collapsed and only a few Chinese businessmen buy jade from them. And they offer prices which are much lower than last year, said Burmese jade traders in Ruili.

A resident of Ruili or Shweli, China’s largest border trade town said, small jade businessmen from Burma in Ruili are now more into working as carriers of Yama, or Amphetamine tablets from Ruili to Hpakant jade mining city in Burma’s northern Kachin State.

On the China side of Ruili and Burma side of Muse border trade towns, the price for a tablet of Amphetamine is 800 Kyat but it is 3,000 Kyat (US $ 3) per tablet in Hpakant jade mining fields, according to jade traders in Ruili.

The Hpakant jade mining fields happen to be the largest consumer market for Yama, heroin, formula, opium and myriad other illicit drugs in Burma and it is also the most favourable markets for illicit drug producers and distributors, said sources close to jade traders now into drugs.

A businessman on Laiza on the China-Burma border told KNG today, “I agree that the border jade sales in China markets has dropped drastically because of the US ban on import of jade from Burma since 2008.  Before the US ban on Burmese jade, most jade buyers were drug businessmen because they bought jade for laundering their money from drugs.”

On the other hand, the junta’s Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win earns a huge amount of personal income from drug gangs, said sources close to him.