An American and two others have been arrested by police after a raid of a 20-acre cannabis plantation in Myanmar, according to a report in The New York Times. The Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control announced on Wednesday that John Fredric Todoroki, 63, an American, and two citizens of Myanmar, U Shein Latt, 37, and Ma Shun Le Myat Noe, 23 had been detained in the township of Ngazun on Monday. All have been charged with offenses that could lead to the death penalty. Police are still searching for a second American, Alexander Skemp Todoroki, 49. The relationship between the two Todorokis is not clear at this time.
The raid occurred after photos of the site, which was referred to as an “industrial hemp plantation,” were posted on social media by cannabis activist group the Mahar Legalization Movement Myanmar. The group praised the operation, saying it was the kind of foreign investment in agriculture needed by the Southeast Asian nation of more than 53 million people. The post garnered thousands of views including some by Myanmar law enforcement.
“We took action as soon as we saw the post on Facebook,” said police officer San Win in a phone