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Booming regional meth industry – Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos

The Thaiger

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Booming regional meth industry – Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos | The Thaiger

A UN Office of Drugs and Crime report released last week states that the methamphetamine trade is now worth between US$30-61 billion per year in East and South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

That figure is up from US$15 billion a year, nearly a decade ago, the last time the UNODC estimated the value of the methamphetamine trade in the region.

Better enforcement, co-operation with neighbouring governments, increased manpower, more sophisticated surveillance and increased numbers of seizures have happened whilst the trade in meth has blossomed in the region.

Methamphetamine pills (aka. yaba in Thailand) are now being sold at highly discounted prices, and the well publicised massive seizures and interceptions do little to dent the operations of highly sophisticated and tech-savvy drug traffickers. Even the crystal methamphetamine (ice) from the region is feeding demand as far away as New Zealand.

Experts say the boom in South East Asia’s methamphetamine industry is the result of a series of regional and political factors, which have seen Myanmar’s lawless Shan State emerge as the regional meth factory.

The Shan State is in Myanmar’s north-east and borders Thailand, Laos and China.

Booming regional meth industry - Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos | News by The Thaiger

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Myanmar’s lawless Shan State warlords, militias and rebel groups typically sold opium and heroin, but subsequently shifted to synthetic drugs after realising how much easier they were to produce and more profitable they could be.

Lax enforcement in Shan State, coupled with porous borders, enabled methamphetamine producers to easily import the chemicals needed to make meth. Poorly enforced money laundering controls then allowed kingpins to easily clean their millions and flourish.

At the same time significant investment has been made in new highways and bridges in an out of Myanmar, Thailand, China, Laos, Bangladesh and Vietnam. This has provided a boom in movement of products like food and clothing. And drugs. In the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’, China’s Belt & Road strategy to open up trade routes throughout Asia, has inadvertently made trafficking drugs a lot easier.

Booming regional meth industry - Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos | News by The Thaiger

Routinely, seizures of truckloads of 1-5 million meth pills are intercepted then paraded by Thai police. But the biggest drug haul was in 2018 when authorities seized a record-breaking 120 tonnes of crystal meth and methamphetamine pills coming out of the Golden Triangle. More than half of the busts took place in Thailand, where authorities confiscated more than 515 million meth pills.

Now, Laos and Malaysia are also reporting record-breaking busts. In the first eight months of 2018 Chinese authorities reported a 22x increase in crystal methamphetamine seizures in Yunnan province, alone, compared with just three years before.

The UNODC report also states that organised crime groups are not only moving “staggering” amounts of meth to meet demand, they are also trying to increase that demand by flooding the region with cheap product. That’s led methamphetamine pill prices to hit historic lows. The flood also creates greater need and a myriad of social problems.

Pills are reportedly selling for less than US$1 (30 baht), even lower than the going price two decades ago.

At the start of this year Thai authorities began an “intensification campaign” along Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar. That’s where the main route south begins through Thailand. But those efforts, and the vast amounts of international investment to open new routes in and around the region, has just sent enterprising traffickers to use new routes, too numerous for effective enforcement.

John  Coyne, a former Australian Federal Police official says the capacity for cashed-up and smart producers to simply ramp up production is allowing meth producers “to write off large seizures as a cost of doing business.”

“There needs to be a distinct rethink on what we do.”



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Crime

UPDATE: 9 Chinese arrested over 5 billion baht fraud case

The Thaiger

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UPDATE: 9 Chinese arrested over 5 billion baht fraud case | The Thaiger
On Saturday The Thaiger reported that nine Chinese nationals had been taken into custody after travelling to Thailand in order to avoid prosecution for crimes in China. They were wanted by Chinese authorities for alleged crimes in China. Read that report HERE.

We now have some further details…

Out of the 9, 5 were male and 4 were female. They were involved in a case that, according to Chinese counterparts, had affected the Chinese economy by forging contracts. After receiving the information from Chinese police, a Thai investigation team started to search for the 9 Chinese individuals who had sought refuge in Thailand.

The nine had opened an online selling business that they used to cheat victims in China. The suspects worked together in creating fake businesses and accounts that cheated online transactions systems to their advantage in defrauding customers. Their actions allegedly defrauded the Bank of China resulting in damages valued over 5 billion baht.

The 9 suspects will be prosecuted including having their visas revoked before being deported back to China. All 9 suspects will be blacklisted to prevent them from visiting Thailand again.

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Bangkok

Australian bailed bikie boss refused entry into Thailand

The Thaiger

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Australian bailed bikie boss refused entry into Thailand | The Thaiger

SCREENGRAB: 9news.com.au

The leader of an Australian outlaw motorcycle gang, Mick Murray, was turned around at the border in Thailand, despite his bail conditions allowing him to leave Australia for travel. The Comanchero bikie gang president, facing more than 100 fraud charges, had his bail conditions varied by the Melbourne Magistrates Court last Wednesday so he could travel to Thailand and Dubai.

Murray flew to Thailand on Thursday night, where he had planned to spend five nights, before a 10 day holiday in Dubai.

But he arrived back at Melbourne Airport on a Thai Airways flight about noon on Saturday after Thai authorities turned him around at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Among other charges, he is accused of having associates falsify a loan application to a car-leasing company on his behalf and allegedly owes the Australian Taxation Office $1 million.

Although police failed to have the changes to his bail halted, Mick will have to stay put in Australia for the time being, arriving back at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Victoria Police says that the man had been refused entry into Thailand.

“This is a matter for the Thai authorities.”

SOURCES: 9news.com.au | theage.com.au

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Bangkok

Nine Chinese criminals rounded up for extradition back to China

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Nine Chinese criminals rounded up for extradition back to China | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO: Thai Immigration Chief Pol Lt-General Sompong Chingduang

Nine Chinese nationals have been taken into custody after seeking refuge in Thailand, wanted by Chinese authorities for alleged crimes in China.

Thai Immigration officials report that the nine have caused damages valued around 5 billion baht to the Chinese government.

Immigration police chief Pol Lt-General Sompong Chingduang said the Thai visas for five of them have been cancelled. Some of them had sought refuge in Thailand and overstayed their visas, after committing crimes in China. Some of the others entered Thailand illegally, according to Immigration officials.

All nine suspects had been either on a watch list, or a list of arrest warrants submitted by Chinese authorities to Thai Immigration. All nine will be extradited to China.

Sompong says the arrests of the nine suspects were made at the request of Chinese authorities under a new cooperation and extradition deal between the two countries.

SOURCE: The Nation

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