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Opium production falls in Golden Triangle

VIENNA, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Illicit drug cultivation in Southeast Asia has fallen off sharply, according to a survey released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC executive director, said Monday that opium production has dropped in Thailand and Laos after years of high crop yields, the United Nations reported.

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Thailand, Laos and Myanmar make up a region known as the Golden Triangle. Officials say the region produces approximately 5 percent of the world's total opium production. The South East Asia Opium Survey conducted by the UNODC indicated that despite the drop in opium cultivation in Thailand and Laos, Myanmar remains a heavy producer of the illicit drug.

Costa called on the international community to support the Golden Triangle region with development assistance, warning that without the much-needed help, the area's economy could "slide back into drug dependency," the release said.

"Rising opium prices increase the risk that farmers may revert to illicit crops," Costa said in a statement.

"Urgent steps are needed to consolidate progress towards making the Golden Triangle opium-free, and to head off a major crisis."

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