Methamphetamine remains the top illicit drug threat in East and Southeast Asia, according to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report – “2012 Patterns and Trends of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants and Other Drugs, Asia and the Pacific” – launched at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand today. Seizures of methamphetamine pills have increased more than five-fold since 2007, says UNODC, noting that amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) are now either the number one or number two illicit drug of use in 13 of the 15 Asia Pacific countries surveyed in the report.
Burma remains the top source of illicit methamphetamine pills in East and Southeast Asia, and is also a source of crystalline methamphetamine, according to the UNODC report, which says that ‘significant quantities’ of crystal meth are also produced in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, with ‘large-scale manufacturing’ reported in Cambodia.
“The methamphetamine problem in East and Southeast Asia continues to worsen,” said Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Representative, East Asia and the Pacific.
“During the past five years, the availability and use of methamphetamine has increased significantly. This and the increasing involvement of transnational organized criminal groups in the illicit trade of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) pose a growing threat to the both security and public health in the region,” Gary Lewis said.
As said by Khuensai Jaiyen, author of Shan Drug Watch, Burma Army controlled ‘People’s Militia Forces’ (PMF), set up by the governmen supporting its operations against rebel forces, have become key players in the drug trade, both heroin and ATS. However, government authorities’ involvement in the drug problem is being easily ignored by the international community since it embraces Burma’s new Thein Sein administration which acts as a reformist.
At least six well-known drug lords in Burma represented the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). They are now taking parliament seats along with other members of parliament since the 7 November 2010 elections, according to the Shan Drug Watch report.
As the drug problem has intertwined with the country’s long-lasting political fiasco, stakeholders of Burma should not underestimate the impact of drug-trafficking throughout the country. It may severely damage the designated reform task supported by the western democracies.