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Methamphetamine production sees record surge in Southeast Asia: UN

Seized methamphetamine pills before incineration in a furnace during the 42nd destruction of confiscated narcotics ceremony. Photograph:( Agencia EFE )

Agencia EFE Bangkok, Thailand Mar 11, 2019, 01.02 PM (IST)

Methamphetamine production has reached "unprecedented levels" in Southeast Asia and has expanded its market in the eastern part of the continent, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said on Monday.

The experts pointed out to the Golden Triangle region - where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet - as the main origin of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs and said that they are trafficked to neighbouring countries in the region and beyond.

In the year 2018, at least 116 tons of methamphetamine was seized in the region, which was 30 per cent more than the year before.

"Volumes of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs originating from the Golden Triangle to Thailand have reached unprecedented levels", said Niyom Termsrisuk, Secretary-General of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) of Thailand.

"Large amounts of synthetic drugs have been trafficked to neighbouring countries in the region, but also further," Niyom added.

The increase in the production of methamphetamine is leading to a decline in the price of the drug on the black market and an increase has been registered in the confiscations by the authorities.

"The challenge is growing, and it is critical we work with UNODC and the region to curtail flows of precursor chemicals that are being used to produce methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs," Niyom said in a statement released by UNODC.

The organization explained the growing trend of expansion of methamphetamine in East Asia - China registered a record number of seizures last year - and other substances produced in the laboratories situated in the Golden Triangle region.

"Aside from methamphetamine which is getting most of the attention because of the surge in seizures and street price drops, synthetic opioids and other drugs have also been found across the region", said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“National leadership and authorities are starting to come to terms with how profoundly synthetics are changing the drug market, and we hope they use the coming Mekong Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok and ASEAN leadership meetings to reflect on the situation and their strategy – this is not business as usual, and it is past time to change the response," Douglas added. 

Story highlights

The experts pointed out to the Golden Triangle region - where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet - as the main origin of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs and said that they are trafficked to neighbouring countries in the region and beyond.