Myanmar, Thailand incinerate illicit drugs worth $800 million

BANGKOK/YANGON (Reuters) - Officials in Myanmar and Thailand burned illegal narcotics worth more than $800 million on Monday to mark the UN day against drug abuse and trafficking.

The move came even as authorities struggle to stem the flood of illicit drugs in the region, with Thailand's justice minister last year saying the country's war on drugs was failing.

In Thailand's Ayutthaya province, more than 9 tonnes of drugs with a street value of over $590 million went up in smoke including methamphetamines, known locally as "yaba" or "crazy drug", according to police.

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Myanmar, Thailand incinerate illicit drugs

A firefighter prepares to distinguish fire after burning seized drugs at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Employees from the Food and Drug Administration sort out various methamphetamines before their incineration during the 47th Destruction of Confiscated Narcotics event by the Thai Government at Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on June 26, a defiant show of force as law enforcement struggles to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

A police officer talks on the phone as seized drugs are being destroyed with fire at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

A member of UWSA (United Wa State Army) shows 'WY' also know as Ya Ba drug before they are set on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Police officers stand next to seized drugs that will be burned at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

A member of UWSA (United Wa State Army) sets a pile of seized drugs on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Police officers stand next to seized drugs that will be burned at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Police officers prepare to destroy seized drugs with fire at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Firefighters prepare to distinguish fire after burning seized drugs at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) empties a packet of 'WY' also know as Ya Ba drug before they are set on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian officials torch a pile of drugs during a destruction ceremony to mark the UN's 'International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking' in Phnom Penh on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on Monday, a defiant show of force as police struggle to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) stand guard during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters prepare to distinguish fire after burning seized drugs at an event to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, outside Yangon, Myanmar June 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) empties a packet of 'WY' also know as Ya Ba drug before they are set on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) stand guard during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Employees from the Food and Drug Administration puts bags of methamphetamines into a vat before their incineration during the 47th Destruction of Confiscated Narcotics event by the Thai Government at Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on June 26, a defiant show of force as law enforcement struggles to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

Children and members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) attend a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Children and a member of UWSA (United Wa State Army) attend a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian National Authority for Combating Drugs officials prepare drugs for a destruction ceremony to mark the UN's 'International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking' in Phnom Penh on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on Monday, a defiant show of force as police struggle to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) attend a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of UWSA (United Wa State Army) sets a pile of seized drugs on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of UWSA (United Wa State Army) take a group photo a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT - A member of UWSA (United Wa State Army) sets a pile of seized drugs on fire during a drug burning ceremony to mark the UN's world anti-drugs day in Poung Par Khem, near the Thai and Myanmar border on June 26, 2017. The United Wa State Army, a 25,000-strong militia known as Asia's most heavily-armed drug dealers boast their own autonomous territories on the border with China and have close links with Beijing.

(YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian police officials stand guard near a pile of drugs during a destruction ceremony to mark the UN's 'International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking' in Phnom Penh on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on Monday, a defiant show of force as police struggle to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

An employee from the Food and Drug Administration sorts out bags of methamphetamines before their incineration during the 47th Destruction of Confiscated Narcotics event by the Thai Government at Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya on June 26, 2017. Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia torched nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on June 26, a defiant show of force as law enforcement struggles to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region.

(LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

Myanmar police walk near the site where confiscated drugs were burnt to commemorate World Anti-Drugs Day on the outskirts of Yangon on June 26, 2017. Myanmar and Thailand started torching nearly $1 billion worth of seized narcotics on June 26, a defiant show of force as law enforcement struggles to stem the rising flow of drugs in the region. The burnings, to mark world anti-drugs day, follow another year of record seizures of narcotics from the remote borderlands of Myanmar, Laos, southern China and northern Thailand. / AFP PHOTO / SAI AUNG MAIN (Photo credit should read SAI AUNG MAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Currently, we are able to take down a lot of networks, including ... transnational networks bringing drugs into Thailand ... to be shipped to Malaysia and other countries," Sirinya Sitthichai, Secretary-General of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, told reporters in Ayutthaya.

In neighboring Myanmar, the police said they destroyed confiscated drugs worth around $217 million.

Myanmar remains one of the world's largest producers of illicit drugs, including opium, heroin and methamphetamines. Those narcotics are often smuggled into China.

Last year, law makers in Myanmar voiced disappointment over the country's lackluster efforts to tackle the drug problem.

The market for methamphetamines has been growing in Southeast Asia, the United Nations has said. It estimates that Southeast Asia's trade in heroin and methamphetamine was worth $31 billion in 2013.

(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa in AYUTTHAYA and Aye Win Myint in YANGON; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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