Sunday, June 26, 2011

Southeast Asia:a major drug hub

a major drug hub: Southeast Asia

UN anti-narcotics agency sounded the alarm over soaring production and consumption of heroin and new designer drugs that are again making Southeast Asia a major drugs hub.

"The international community seems to have taken its eye off the ball on drug control in Southeast Asia," said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The agency's World Drug Report 2011 warned that Myanmar has become a prime source of synthetic narcotic methamphetamine which it said is "sweeping" across East Asia.

A record 15.8 tons of methamphetamine pills were seized in 2009, the latest year for available figures, up by more than one third from 2008.

Afghanistan remains the world's top opium producer closely followed by Myanmar.

The world opium market is now said to be valued at more than $68 billion a year.

Fedotov said that Southeast Asia -- and particularly the so-called "Golden Triangle" region where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet -- was again a big concern.

"The gains we have witnessed in the traditional drugs markets are being offset by a fashion for synthetic 'designer drugs' mimicking illegal substances," said the agency's chief.

The UN said that governments and experts in Asia had reported a "significant" increase in use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) over the past year, particularly of methamphetamine.

UNODC said the first clandestine ATS laboratory in India was found in 2003 but more have been uncovered since. "Attempts at illicit ATS manufacture have also been reported from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

"South Asia has become one of the main regions used to obtain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine for the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine.

"India is one of the world's largest manufacturers of precursor chemicals and Bangladesh also has a growing chemical industry," warned the report.

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