The pharmaceutical industry in East Asia and Southeast Asia ushered in an ominous peak

BANGKOK (AP) — The number of methamphetamine tablets seized in East and Southeast Asia last year topped 1 billion for the first time last year, the United Nations said Monday, underscoring the scale of illicit drug production and trafficking in the region and the challenges of fighting the drug.

The 1.008 billion pills were part of nearly 172 tons of methamphetamine in various forms in the region, seven times the amount seized 10 years ago, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report.

These drugs are mainly consumed in Southeast Asia, but are also exported to New Zealand and Australia in East Asia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, and increasingly to South Asia.

“As supply becomes super concentrated in the Mekong (river region), especially in Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, production and trafficking of methamphetamine have soared again,” said Jeremy Douglas, the UN agency’s regional representative for South-East Asia in An email told The Associated Press about the interview.

Increased production makes the drug cheaper and more accessible, creating greater risks for people and their communities, the report said.

Methamphetamine, which is easy to manufacture, has replaced opium and its derivative heroin as the main illicit drug used and exported in Southeast Asia.

The Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, has historically been a major producer of opium, which many laboratories convert into heroin. Decades of political unrest have left Myanmar’s border areas largely lawless, exploited by drug producers and traffickers.

Given limited governance and low attention to the issue, the United Nations. Organised crime groups have ways to keep producing more meth and selling it to a growing young population with increasing spending power, the agency said.

The political environment also helps traffickers.

In Myanmar, the military seized power from an elected government last year and is now waging an armed struggle against enemies of military rule. Drug production in Myanmar is often linked to armed minority groups who sometimes fight the government and each other.

“Each group denies involvement in drug production and trafficking, noting that other groups are responsible, but the drug economy is arguably the largest part of the economy in most or many areas along the Shan State and Burma border, and there are many intelligence-linked groups to the experiment. room and cargo,” Douglas said.

The report also said Laos was one of the countries most affected by methamphetamine smuggled from Myanmar. Last October, Laos carried out Asia’s largest-ever drug crackdown, when local police seized more than 55.6 million methamphetamine pills in a raid. They also seized 65 bags of methamphetamine, state media reported.

The UN agency said it was concerned that criminal enterprises were using Cambodia as a drug-producing location. A clandestine laboratory dismantled there last year was an industrial-scale facility for the production of ketamine and possibly other drugs, the report said.

Ketamine is legally used as an anesthetic, but its non-medical uses and clandestine manufacture have drawn the attention of United Nations agencies.

Many countries have attempted to stop methamphetamine production by suppressing the supply of precursors, usually ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, known for their use in decongestant drugs. But the UN agency said some methamphetamine producers had apparently learned to make the precursors from uncontrolled substances that can be freely and legally traded.

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