Wed, May 27, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Meth problem growing across Asia-Pacific: UN

AFP, BANGKOK

Methamphetamine seizures across much of the Asia-Pacific region have quadrupled over five years, the UN said yesterday, citing rising wealth as one reason for a boom in production and consumption.

Growing economic integration across the region was also enabling cross-border criminal networks to cooperate in peddling amphetamine-type stimulants and so-called “legal highs,” the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

The study, which was released in Bangkok, covers Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania, but excluded South Asia.

Between 2008 and 2013, the last year covered by UNODC data, regional seizures of methamphetamine rose nearly fourfold from 11 tonnes to 42 tonnes. Much of the increase is down to an explosion in production of meth tablets, known in parts of Asia as “yaba.”

The drug tends to come in two forms, a powerful crystalline variant known as “ice” or crystal meth, and the usually less pure tablets.

Between 2008 and 2013, crystal meth seizures doubled, from 7 tonnes to about 14 tonnes. However, meth tablet seizures grew eight fold, from 30 million tablets in 2008 to more than 250 million in 2013.

The rise “points to expanding manufacture and an increase of trafficking to and through the region,” the report said.

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