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Southeast Asia Beset by Flood of Cheap Methamphetamines, Synthetic Opioids: UN Report

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Ya Ba tablets

Ya Ba tablets, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine. Photo: Octahedron80 / พีรพล อนุตรโสตถิ์ (journalist).

The synthetic drug market in East and Southeast Asia is expanding and diversifying with the price of methamphetamines dropping to its lowest level in the past 10 years, while supplies of synthetic opioids have risen sharply, according to a new report issued Friday by the United Nations drug crimes agency.

The report from the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that the number of synthetic opioids identified among illicit drug supplies in the region jumped to 28 in 2019 from three in 2014, and that agents are seizing the substances in new locations as organized crime expands its business.

The report titled “Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia: Latest Developments and Challenges” says that the variety and volume of synthetic substances have increased in the past year in the region’s thriving illegal drugs business.

“It is hard to imagine that organized crime have again managed to expand the drug market, but they have,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in a written statement.

“While the world has shifted its attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, all indications are that production and trafficking of synthetic drugs and chemicals continue at record levels in the region,” he said.

The production of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and more potent variations, have become more concentrated within and around the Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers, a remote zone of limited government control, UNODC said.

Full story:

By Roseanne Gerin
Additional reporting by BenarNews.

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