Local authorities in Laos seized a massive drug haul that a United Nations crime agency has called the biggest bust ever recorded in Asia.
Biggest in history: On Wednesday, Laos police discovered 55.6 million methamphetamine tablets and under 1.7 tons of crystal meth inside a beer delivery truck that officers pulled over for inspection, reported the Washington Post.
The contraband was hidden in crates stamped with logos of the beer brand Lao Brewery, which is partly owned by the Laotian government.
The state has since released a statement that says the truck was not registered to the company or its affiliates and the brand was merely “abused as a cover for illegal activities.”
The truck was intercepted in the Laotian province of Bokèo, which borders Thailand and Myanmar.
According to U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative Jeremy Douglas, the bust was "by far the largest seizure in the history of East and Southeast Asia."
If the drugs were sold in neighboring countries like Thailand, the U.N. body roughly calculated that they would be worth up to nearly $190 million. If exported to countries like Australia, the crystal meth alone could be worth around $200 million, based on current prices there.
The seizure is about three times the total number of meth tablets and a third of the total crystal meth confiscated by Laotian authorities last year.
The golden triangle: The province of Bokeo sits at the center of the remote region of the Golden Triangle, which has become known as an international haven for illicit drug production and trafficking activities, reported the BBC.
Local law enforcement units have recently captured some 16 million meth tablets in two recent operations in a week and have since been “on heightened alert.”
According to Douglas, the current unrest in Myanmar's Shan state has resulted in a substantial rise in drug trade activity in the region in recent months.
"Neighbors and the wider region are getting absolutely flooded with methamphetamine, and there is little doubt it is connected to the governance situation in Shan," he was quoted as saying.