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Synthetic drugs growing in east, Southeast Asia: UN report

Jack Burton

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Synthetic drugs growing in east, Southeast Asia: UN report | The Thaiger
PHOTO: ENACT
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The synthetic drugs market in East and Southeast Asia continues to expand and diversify, and the price of methamphetamine “yaba” tablets has dropped to the lowest level in a decade as the supply has surged. A report released yesterday by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime titled “Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia: Latest Developments and Challenges”, warns that the variety and volume of synthetic drugs have increased in the past year.

According to the UNODC Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific…

“It is hard to imagine that organised crime have again managed to expand the drug market, but they have. 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.”

Arrests and seizures of methamphetamine, both tablets (yaba) and crystal form (ice), in East and Southeast Asia have dramatically increased over the last decade, something not observed in any other part of the world. Countries in the region confirmed seizures of 115 tonnes of methamphetamine in 2019, a figure that does not yet include data from China, which has seized an average of nearly 30 tonnes per year in the last five years.

The report warns that greater supply has resulted in methamphetamine becoming extremely cheap, reaching its lowest price points in the last decade in East and Southeast Asia. Decreases in the price were also seen in the high-profit markets of Australia, New Zealand and the South Korea in 2019. Yet despite declining prices, the purity of Southeast Asian methamphetamine market remains high and has even increased in some countries.

“In short, organised crime groups are in a position to provide better quality methamphetamine at much lower prices compared to a decade ago, increasing affordability and harm at the same time.”

Both East and Southeast Asia are also seeing the steady rise of dangerous synthetic opioids. While there were only three opioids identified in the illicit drug supply of the region up to 2014, that number skyrocketed to 28 in 2019, and seizures are being made in many new locations as organised crime continue to push the limits of the business.

“Synthetic opioids like fentanyl and even more potent variations deserve much more attention than they receive in the region. Production is known to migrate into places with deep governance problems, like the Golden Triangle, and we are concerned Southeast Asia could become a source for other parts of the world while these substances get mixed into or displace part of the regional heroin supply.”

Apart from methamphetamine and synthetic opioids, the report notes that a wide range of synthetic drugs, including ecstasy, ketamine and cannabinoids, is found across the region. “It is clear that the synthetic drug market in East and Southeast Asia is dynamic and continues to evolve,” according to Justice Tettey, chief of the UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Section.

The UNODC is working closely with Thailand and other countries in the region through the Global SMART Programme and Mekong MOU on Drug Control to monitor the drug situation and provide advice on cooperation, detection, precursor chemical control and public health strategies, and to help countries collaborate on joint and border operations.

The Secretary General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board of Thailand says… “Our partnership with UNODC and other Mekong countries is essential for success. The challenge we face is significant, and we will only be able to make progress through regional and international cooperation.”

SOURCES: unodc.org | Chiang Rai Times

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Crime

Police search for man who allegedly stole 1.9 million baht worth of gold at gunpoint

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police search for man who allegedly stole 1.9 million baht worth of gold at gunpoint | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Police are searching for a man who allegedly pulled out a gun and stole 119 gold necklaces worth more than 1.9 million baht from a Tesco Lotus gold shop in the Isaan province Nakhon Ratchasima’s Non Thai district.

The man allegedly pulled out a gun and yelled at the Yaowarat Krungthep gold shop staff to get down on the floor. He then allegedly climbed over the counter, opened the display cabinets and grabbed dozens of gold necklaces. Police say he then took off on a motorcycle.

Gold shop employees told police that the man was wearing a yellow hoodie, red pants and a purple face mask. An employee at the scene said the man held a gun and ordered him to lie on the ground.

“The robber then jumped over the display cabinets and grabbed several gold necklaces before fleeing on a motorcycle, which had no license plate.”

Police are investigating and reviewing surveillance camera footage. Officers also set up roadblocks.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

Man arrested for allegedly importing millions of fake designer sunglasses

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for allegedly importing millions of fake designer sunglasses | The Thaiger
PHOTO: DSI

A 42 year old Chinese man was arrested for allegedly importing fake designer sunglasses after police raided 2 locations in Bangkok’s Thonburi area and seized 3 million pairs of fake designer sunglasses worth around 300 million baht.

Officers from the Department of Special Investigation raided multiple rooms at the Dao Khanong Condominium and the BMC Dao Khanong Cinema. The department posted photos of the raids showing rooms filled with boxes stacked to the ceiling.

Police say the sunglasses had major designer brand names like Ray Ban, Gucci, Oakley, Chanel, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, Mont Blanc, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Fendi and Versace.

Man arrested for allegedly importing millions of fake designer sunglasses | News by The Thaiger

Man arrested for allegedly importing millions of fake designer sunglasses | News by The Thaiger

Man arrested for allegedly importing millions of fake designer sunglasses | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Bangkok

Police shoot and kill man suspected of dealing “K-powdered milk”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police shoot and kill man suspected of dealing “K-powdered milk” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: HD.co.th

A man suspected of selling the ketamine-based drug cocktail, which is said to be tied to at least 10 deaths in Bangkok, was shot and killed in a shootout with police in Nakhon Pathom, just west of the capital. The narcotic cocktail, known as “K powdered milk,” is ketamine laced with methamphetamine, heroin and the anti-anxiety medication diazepam, all crushed up together resembling powdered milk.

Police tracked down 41 year old Wasan Khiaohom yesterday. He was in a pickup truck parked next to another car on a roadside in Nakhon Pathom’s Mueang district. As officers moved in to investigate, Wasan, who also went by the name Ple Kampangsaen, got out of a pickup and pulled out a gun, firing shots at the officers. Police fired back, shooting him. Wasan tried to flee the area, but collapsed and died in a wooded area by the road.

Police say they searched Wasan’s pockets and found a small bag of “K powdered milk” and 40 ecstasy pills. Police also arrested 2 alleged accomplices who were driving the car and pickup truck.

Police have been cracking down on illicit drugs after 10 people died reportedly after taking the narcotic drug cocktail while others were hospitalised. From January 13 to 18, police arrested 592 people in the drug crackdown. In a series of busts, police say they seized a total of 8,644,825 baht worth of drugs including methamphetamine pills, crystal methamphetamine, cannabis, ketamine, kratom leaves, kratom drink and ecstasy pills.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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