News / Asia

    UNODC: Asia Seeing Increased Amphetamine Trafficking

    FILE - U.S. Customs handout photo of confiscated drug ya ba, which was discovered in a shipment of chopsticks, Sacramento, California.
    FILE - U.S. Customs handout photo of confiscated drug ya ba, which was discovered in a shipment of chopsticks, Sacramento, California.
    Ron Corben

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the 2014 World Drug Report on global drug trafficking Thursday to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

    Asia has faced increases in use and trafficking of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), the report says, aided by easy access to key precursor chemicals from regional economies. UNODC researchers also say the region is facing challenges from Internet trading in illegal drugs.

    According to researchers, Asia has also witnessed a rapid rise in amphetamine-type stimulant production in recent years, and the region now accounts for up to 50 percent of the drug's global users.

    Tun Nay Soe, UNODC program coordinator for East Asia, says methamphetamine use poses a major challenge to the region.

    "Methamphetamine — this is the biggest issue," he said. "From 2008 it was showing the dramatic increase. In 2008 it was just only 32 or 33 million [pills], but in 2012 we have like over nearly 230 million. And even though the data is not completed yet ... we can project it is not going to be less than 2012."

    A similar trend is evident with users of crystalline amphetamine, also known as "ice," which is up sharply from a decade ago in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Annual crystalline methamphetamine seizures in the region are at 11.6 metric tons.

    Chemicals that are key to producing ATS-type drugs come from several regional countries, led by Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, China and India, where chemicals are diverted from legal to illegal trade.

    The UNODC says around 243 million people aged between 15 and 64 — about five percent of the world's population — are said to have used illicit drugs in the past year. Each year about 200,000 people die of illicit drug use, with families left to bear the hardship.

    Production of opium, the raw material for heroin, is led by Afghanistan, which in 2013 was saw a 36 percent increase in cultivation area to 154,000 hectares. The country currently produces an estimated 5,500 tons of opium, accounting for 80 percent of global production.

    In Myanmar, also known as Burma, the world's second largest opium producer, the area under cultivation stands at around 57,800 hectares — largely concentrated in northern Shan state.

    The UNODC's Tun Nay Soe says poverty is the driving force behind the Shan villagers' production.

    "Most of these opium growing villages are in remote areas," he said. "For them to grow cash crops and sell [them] is really difficult because transportation infrastructure is not really good. But growing opium is totally different. They do not need to go out and sell this. The traffickers just knock on their door. As long as we are not able to address the poverty issues in Shan state I don't really think we will be able to end this opium cultivation in Myanmar."

    The UNODC says heroin remains a major concern across several Asian countries including China, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

    The other threat, says Tun Nay Soe, is through production and trafficking of new psycho-active substances and Web-based trading. The drugs are often categorized outside existing laws and little is known about the extent of their impact on the community.

    The virtual trading in illicit drugs on the Internet makes it difficult for authorities to identify website owners and users who are a part of the so-called "dark net," which authorities say may be worth billions of dollars. 

    U.N. officials say illegal trafficking in drugs is continuing to expand, often undermined by issues of inconsistent and corrupt law enforcement, and issues of justice and health.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.