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UN Urges More Law Enforcement Cooperation in Asia - 2002-11-12

A senior United Nations official says more cooperation is needed among law enforcement agencies in the Asia-Pacific region to control drug trafficking, international crime and terrorism.

The deputy director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Narumi Yamada, says narcotics traffickers are more sophisticated and closely tied to crimes such as terrorism, and human trafficking.

"The threat that narcotics pose to society reaches across borders for its victims," said Ms. Yamada at a week-long conference on Asia-Pacific drug trafficking in Bangkok. "Militias, terrorists and other criminals are increasingly deriving their financial base from trafficking operations."

East Asia is one of the largest suppliers of heroin in the world. It is second only to Afghanistan, which accounts for some 70 percent of global opium output, the raw material for heroin.

Thailand, part of the so-called Golden Triangle opium region with Burma and Laos, remains a major transit country for heroin. Ms. Yamada, however, says China has emerged as the favored smuggling route out of Southeast Asia.

Chinese authorities report increasing seizures of heroin, especially in southern Yunnan province, where eight tons were taken last year. In the entire country, 12 tons of heroin were seized last year.

Ms. Yamada says only close cooperation among law enforcement agencies will control the problem. "To effectively tackle the problem of drugs in our region, closely related problems such as crime, corruption, terrorism and human trafficking require our full attention and close cooperation among all the nations in the region," she said.

She notes, also, that efforts to stop the flow of drug many can reduce other crime and terrorism. She urged countries in Asia to tighten laws against money laundering and work together to choke off the flow of illegal funds.