Home / World / Asia's average share is now worth an estimated $ 61 billion … without the crisis in sight

Asia's average share is now worth an estimated $ 61 billion … without the crisis in sight

The stash was huge. Inside were more than 5 million methamphetamine pills – known locally as yaba or "madness" – and 145 kilograms of crystalline methamphetamine wrapped in large plastic bags.

Even in conservative estimates, transport was worth tens of millions of dollars, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It was the biggest police Lt. Col Dilok Arinpeng, who orders the unit, said he had ever seen – and unbelievably he found it unprotected.

A UNODC report published Thursday found that the methamphetamine trade is now worth between $ 30 billion and $ 61 billion a year in East and South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

It is rising from $ 15 billion by the year 2010, the last time UNODC estimated the value of meth shares in the region.

Meth is sold on the basis of prices, seizures appear to be small to suppress drug trafficking, and the crystal from the region feeds the inquiry as far away as New Zealand.

Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of UNODC's operations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, urged governments globally to "get their heads around the scale and importance" of the problem.

If they did not, he warned, the situation will only get worse.

"The region is used and abused by organized crime to do business," Douglas said. "It's no stretch to say that parts of it have become their playground."

  Armed Thai naval personnel in a boat under a patrol along the Mekong River bordering Thailand and Laos on May 23.

A Perfect Storm

Experts say the boom in Southeast Asia's metal industry is the result of a perfect storm of factors that have seen Myanmar's lawless Shan state emerges as the region's metric factory.
Many of the warlords, militias, and rebel groups who gave up their separatist struggle in exchange for greater autonomy in recent decades have used that freedom to finance themselves through drug trafficking.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, opium and heroin usually sold, but then shifted to synthetic drugs after realizing how much easier they would produce and more profitable they could be, Douglas said.

Salmon control in Shan State, along with its porous limits, has enabled meters to easily import the chemicals required to deal with. Poorly controlled money laundering controls allow kingpins to easily clean their millions.

"The drug problem escalated with the increased production of psychotropic stimulant tablets, ice (a nickname for the crystal) and precursor chemicals have been illegally traded from neighboring countries," said Myanmar president U Win Myint in a speech June 27, according to Burmese state media.

"The drug of drugs slowly damages our society, destroys the lives of young people and destroys our country's dignity and future," he said.

  Asia & # 39; s met boom

In recent years, another factor has driven business.

Significant investments have been made on new highways and bridges in Southeast Asia, built to move products such as food and clothing. But these new avenues are also used by smugglers to import chemicals and export their finished products, said John Coyne, a former head of strategic intelligence with the Australian Federal Police.

The R3A highway, for example, opened in 2011, connecting parts of Thailand to China via Laos. While it usually leads Chinese products to markets in the south, the authorities have since 2015 also expressed concern that drug trafficking is using it to move meth.

All this combines creates what UNODC calls "the world's largest and most dynamic" methamphetamine market, which has led to drug problems reaching levels "unthinkable a decade ago."

In 2018, the authorities seized a record breaking 120 tons of crystal and pill methamphetamine in the Asia-Pacific region. More than half of these busts took place in Thailand, where the authorities confiscated more than 515 million pellets according to UNODC.

But the problem is not limited to Thailand.

Laos and Malaysia also reported record breaking busts in 2018 and during the first eight months of the year, Chinese authorities reported a 22-fold increase in crystalline methamphetamine seizures in Yunnan province compared to 2015.

Rock-bottom rates

UNODC The report noted that organized crime not only concerns "staggering" amounts of meth to meet demand – they are also trying to increase demand by flooding the region with incredibly cheap product.

It led to synthetic drug prices, especially yaba, to hit historical downturns in Southeast Asia, according to UNODC.

Pills are reportedly sold for less than $ 1 for the price of a bottle of beer in some parts of Thailand. In the capital of Bangkok, Douglas said that a yaba pill costs about $ 1.50 – the same price as 20 years ago.

It is clear that the record breaking attacks have not lowered prices.

"The price is a good indicator of the supply and it only indicates that the supply is extremely high," says Douglas. "The surplus of metering continues and the factories leaving Myanmar work at full tilt."

  On June 5, they held The Thai Drug Authorities held a press conference to announce their 1.5-tonne crystal count. [5] On June 5, the Thai Drug Administration held a press conference to announce their 1.5-tonne crystal charge. <strong> </strong>  [Thailand] Laos, <strong> </strong>  ] </div>
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<p>  China and Myanmar But the organized crime groups have a different, more lucrative income stream. </p>
<p>  The higher purity crystal meter is taken to ports and sent to richer markets such as [19659008] Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. </p>
<p>  While the four countries have modest populations, they account for about one third of the estimated methamphetamine market of 61 billion do. According to UNODC, consumers pay much more for the drug there. </p><div>
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One gram of crystal sold for about $ 560 in Japan and $ 390 in South Korea in 2017, according to UNODC figures released in March. The report did not have figures for Australia and New Zealand. In the US, a pure gram of methamphetamine costs about $ 70 in March 2017, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency's National Drug Review 2018, although prices vary regionally and depend on purity.

Note: According to UNODC, arrows represent the general trade and do not coincide with exact production sources or manufacturing sources, are not actual roads and are not weighted for importance / scale. The boundaries, names and names used do not mean that the United Nations officially approves or accepts.
Sources: UNODC, maps4news.com/*HERE
Graphic: Jason Kwok, CNN

Thailand on the front line

While the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been bloody drug war in an attempt to alleviate this problem, other countries focus on borders and customs authorities.

But Thailand has emerged as the real front line in this fight against the methandel.

It depends on both the country's proximity to the Myanmar production hubs and a renewed focus from the authorities to combat trade.

In early 2019, the Thai authorities launched an "intensification campaign" along the country's northern border with Myanmar, according to UNODC's Douglas. This is where the main road used to transport meth via Thailand begins.

But that effort has just sent entrepreneurial traffickers out in search of new ways. Thai police say some operations are now sending their meth island, with the 800 km portion of the Mekong River separating Thailand from Laos. Three days after the cave discovery in northern Thailand, police seized 100,000 pills at a checkpoint in the province of Kanchanaburi, Western Thailand, bordering on southern Myanmar.

"These roads are much more prominent this year than ever before. The Kanchanaburi route has previously been used very little. It is quite prominent this year, which has surprised everyone," Douglas said from UNODC.

The UNODC report noted that it has been found "large quantities" of the met also traded via Laos – which also borders Myanmar – to Vietnam, which has plenty of coastline for shipping to nearby markets such as Malaysia and the Philippines, but also to Australia and New Zealand.

Coyne, the former Australian federal police official said that the drug gangs have experienced the traditional "anesthetic economy" by creating "a new world of oversupply".

The capacity to simply increase production has enabled metering manufacturers to "print large-scale attacks" as a cost to do business, "says Coyne.

" Here we see very clear evidence that today's strategies for crime suppression does not affect supply or organized crime regionally, he says.

"There must be a clear reconsideration of what we do."

CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, Junko Ogura in Tokyo and the journalist Vee Intarakatug in Bangkok contributed to reporting.

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