A report one billion methamphetamine tablets had been seized in East and Southeast Asia last year, the UN stated Monday, as crime gangs exploited the Covid-19 pandemic and instability in coup-hit Myanmar to spice up their actions.
Southeast Asia’s so-called Golden Triangle has lengthy been an notorious hotspot for drug trafficking, with Myanmar, Laos and Thailand’s porous borders and lax native policing permitting unlawful substances to slide throughout.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated legislation enforcement netted almost 172 tonnes of methamphetamine — roughly seven instances greater than a decade in the past — and the surging provide has despatched road costs in Thailand and Malaysia crashing to all-time lows.
“The scale and reach of the methamphetamine and synthetic drug trade in East and Southeast Asia is staggering,” Jeremy Douglas of UNODC stated in a press release.
He stated crime syndicates and armed teams had capitalised on the area’s political instability and the pandemic to make dramatic positive aspects.
“Organised crime have all the ingredients in place that they need to continue to grow the business,” he stated, including that they crucially had a “massive population with spending power to target”.
Kavinvadee Suppapongtevasakul, UNODC regional artificial medicine analyst for the worldwide SMART programme, stated the drug’s plummeting costs had made it “much more accessible and available to those that could not afford it before.”
“The social consequences of increased use are significant, and health and harm reduction services remain limited across the region,” she added.
While meth capsule figures rocketed, the UNODC additionally famous a slight downturn in crystal methamphetamine, with 79 tonnes seized in comparison with 82 tonnes in 2020 — however nonetheless dramatically up from the lower than 10 tonnes taken a decade in the past.
Myanmar’s northern Shan state stays the area’s main supply of meth, with the drug more and more shipped to Laos, then Thailand earlier than reaching Malaysia, the place it’s trafficked onward to international locations all through the Asia Pacific, the report stated.