Bangkok, May 30 (EFE).- A record number of over one billion methamphetamine pills were seized in Southeast and East Asia in 2021 as the drug trade thrives amid the pandemic and the military coup in Myanmar, a United Nations report said Monday.
The UN’s drugs and crime office (UNODC) revealed during a presentation in Bangkok that nearly 172 tons of methamphetamine were seized by authorities in the region last year, a quantity that has increased seven times compared to a decade ago and 35 times compared to 20 years ago.
Some 88% of those seizures occurred in Southeast Asia, which is a global hub in methamphetamine production and consumption, according to Jeremy Douglas, UNODC’s representative in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region.
“Organized crime have all the ingredients in-place that they need to continue to grow the business, including territory to produce, access to chemicals, established trafficking routes and relationships to move product, and a massive population with spending power to target – they look at the region and see potential and profits,” he said in the report.
The Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, an area known for its opium production, is gathering momentum in the production and distribution of synthetic drugs.
“The scale and reach of the methamphetamine and synthetic drug trade in East and Southeast Asia is staggering, and yet it can continue to expand if the region does not change approach and address the root causes that have allowed it to get to this point, including governance in the Golden Triangle and market demand,” Douglas warned.
Located inside the Golden Triangle is the Myanmar region of Shan, the leading producer of synthetic drugs, which are smuggled out disguised as bags of tea.
Kavinvadee Suppapongtevasakul, the UNODC’s regional synthetic drug analyst, said the price of methamphetamine pills has dropped to an all-time low and can be bought in cities like Bangkok for $1.
While methamphetamine is the foremost concern for authorities in the region, the UN report warned that other synthetic drugs such as ketamine are also on the rise.EFE