“The continued drop in prices of crystal methamphetamine in Southeast Asia, for instance in Malaysia and Thailand, while purity of the drug remains high, means greater affordability and accessibility of high-purity drugs,” Douglas said.
“Organized crime [syndicates] have all the ingredients in place that they need to continue to grow the business, including territory to produce, access to chemicals, established trafficking routes and relationships to move product, and a massive population with spending power to target,” Douglas said.
“They look at the region and see potential and profits.”
Drugs boom in a strict region
In Southeast Asia, a region with a population of more than 680 million people across 11 paesi, methamphetamine is a booming multibillion-dollar trade that has supplanted opium and its derivative heroin to become the dominant illegal drug for both use and export.
That is despite the region being notorious for having some of the world’s strictest drug laws
, with some offenses punishable by death in Singapore
, Indonesia and Vietnam
One of Asia’s biggest-ever drug busts took place in Laos last October, when local police seized more than 55.6 million methamphetamine pills in a single raid.
Cambodia is also home to an increasing number of drug production sites, the UN agency noted.
“One clandestine laboratory dismantled there last year was an industrial-scale facility set up to produce ketamine and potentially other drugs,” ha detto.