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Regional Illicit Drug Trade Thriving In Covid-19 Era

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Regional Illicit Drug Trade Thriving In Covid-19 Era | Samui Times
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The production of methamphetamine, the most popular drug in the Asia-Pacific region, continues to hit record highs while prices fall to new lows in East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report that compiled data from 2019 to first quarter of 2020.

“It is hard to imagine that organised crime have again managed to expand the drug market, but they have,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“While the world has shifted its attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, all indications are that production and trafficking of synthetic drugs and chemicals continue at record levels in the region.”

Inshik Sim, a UNODC Illicit Drugs Analyst, told Reuters that recent intelligence implied that there had been no variance in the street price of methamphetamine in Bangkok or Manila, the capitals of Thailand and the Philippines and the largest markets for the drug in Southeast Asia.

The stability of the drug market in most of the Asia-Pacific contrasts with North America and Europe’s markets, where strict travel restrictions and border controls have intercepted supply chains and increased prices.

As supply has increased and prices have dropped, the purity of the drug has risen, the UNODC report said.

Asia’s drug market produces both crystal meth and cheaper pills of meth cut with caffeine known as yaba, or “crazy drug” in the Thai language.

While opium cultivation and heroin production has been declining in areas such northern Myanmar and parts of Laos and Thailand, there has been a “steady emergence” of dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl in East And Southeast Asia, said the report.

Other synthetic drugs such as ecstasy, ketamine and cannabinoids are also increasingly found across the region, the UNODC report said.

SOURCE: The Star

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