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Precursor for Meth Production Being Shipped from Thailand

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Meth Production and Drug Trade Growing Despite Covid Restrictions

Authorities in Thailand have urged the cabinet to restrict sodium cyanide exports after substantial quantities of the precursor for meth were discovered to have been transported to Myanmar, a key meth manufacturer.

The request comes after a conference to discuss narcotics control measures in the aftermath of the Nong Bua Lam Phu slaughter by an ex-cop who had long misused the drug.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, who presided over Monday’s meeting at the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), said the cabinet would be requested to restrict sodium cyanide exports until it could be determined what they were used for.

According to the minister, Thailand recently purchased 1,150 tonnes of sodium cyanide but exported up to 810 tonnes to Myanmar alone.

“If the amount was abused could produce 16.06 billion methamphetamine pills,” Mr. Somsak claimed.

He claimed that the remaining sodium cyanide was utilized for metal coating within Thailand.

The ONCB, stated that the agency inspected and seized quantities of sodium cyanide deemed suspicious at various companies, but impacted operators later filed complaints.

He said that some of the drugs were supplied to narcotics manufacturers.

According to Jullapong Thaveesri, director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, the government cannot generate sodium cyanide and must import it.

He stated that authorities would establish export quotas for exporters based on genuine, legal demand for sodium cyanide.

Halt sodium cyanide shipments

The quotas would take 3-6 months to develop, and sodium cyanide shipments should be halted until the process was completed, according to Mr. Jullapong.

He claimed there would be no detrimental impact on Myanmar’s industry because the country could acquire sodium cyanide directly from China.

Statistics show that seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine have increased more than tenfold in Thailand over the last two years, a clear indicator of the stimulant’s rise in industrial-scale manufacture in neighbouring Myanmar.

Thailand is a significant conduit for crystal meth trafficking from Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states, where police believe Asian organized criminal groups have collaborated with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to establish “super laboratories.”

According to officials, drug syndicates have distributed meth across Asia, South Korea, New Zealand, and most countries.

Surging volume and growing diversification

Meth Labs in Myanmar

Myanmar’s illegal labs also produce meth-laced caffeine tablets known as “yaba,” or “crazy pill,” in Thai. The tablets are popular among low-wage labourers and poor recreational drug users in Southeast Asia.

According to Niyom Termsrisuk, secretary general of the ONCB, meth prices are declining despite growing seizures, implying that far more is avoiding authorities than being seized.

In 2019, the average price of a meth tablet was 200 baht ($6.33). According to the most recent data, a yaba pill can be purchased for as cheap as 80 baht ($2.50) in 2022.

Niyom claims that by flooding Thailand and other nations with meth, organized crime groups have “created new addicts” by luring them with lower costs. Users grow addicted to the extremely addictive drug, providing a larger demand for the product.

The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, which includes northern Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, has long been a hotbed of illicit drug trafficking.

Law enforcement was overburdened, while “health authorities are severely under-resourced and have limited capacity to provide treatment,” he noted.

According to regional police and analysts, organized criminal groups take advantage of the semi-lawless northern Myanmar borderlands, striking deals with the plethora of ethnic armed gangs and state-sponsored militias that govern territory there.

According to Niyom of the ONCB, 8 tons of crystal meth were intercepted on the way to southern Thailand and the Malaysian border. “It was on its way to other markets,” he explained.

Over the last year, police have caught meth-laden boats leaving the Malaysian city of Penang.

Syndicates often utilize “Motherships,” which take drugs in the Andaman Sea and transport them to Australia and New Zealand.

Myanmar meth has also been trafficked into the Philippines and Malaysia shipping containers.

Chemists are brought in from Taiwan and China to establish meth labs in Myanmar, according to regional anti-drugs police who spoke on anonymity.

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