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Drug Trade Booms Despite 1 Billion Meth Pills Being Seized

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Last year, more than one billion meth pills were seized by authorities in Southeast Asia, the United Nations reported on Monday.

The prices for meth pills fell last year even as interceptions rose, showing a surge in supply, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the region is literally drowning in methamphetamine. “We need to look closely at policies in place to tackle the problem,” he said.

In 2021, seizure of crystallized, liquid, and powdered methamphetamine declined, but the confiscation of tablets increased.

Read: Police Seize Over 2 Million Meth Pills in Chiang Rai Province

Asia’s authorities seized a record 171.5 tons of meth in 2021, up from 170 tons last year. The majority of tablets were seized in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, where they are used both recreationally and by workers.

“We’re making a lot of seizures but aren’t making any impact on the business itself,” Douglas explained.

There was also a significant change in trafficking routes from the center of meth production in Myanmar’s Shan State.

As a result of increased anti-narcotics operations in Thailand and southern China, crime syndicates expanded their operations in northern Laos in 2021.

Douglas said Laos was a “soft target” for traffickers.

According to the report, 2.7 tonnes of ketamine were seized in Cambodia in the last five years, nearly 15 times the amount seized in the previous five years combined.

Jeremy Douglas

Jeremy Douglas is the Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific overseeing and managing operations and strategy from Myanmar to the Pacific in the areas of the rule of law, non-traditional security threats, law enforcement, criminal justice, and drug-related supply and health issues.

He is also the UNODC liaison to China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia and to regional organizations including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

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