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Asian regional control of amphetamines needed, says UN anti-drug chief

Asian regional control of amphetamines needed, says UN anti-drug chief

With Asia driving the global market for methamphetamine, the continent needs regional control of synthetic drugs to safeguard decades of hard-won progress against illicit substances, the head of the United Nation’s anti-drug unit said today.

Speaking in Beijing at a meeting of Asian ministers, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), called for the creation of a regional drug control mechanism modelled on counter-narcotics intelligence networks that his unit is helping to set up in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

“Asia has a problem with the illicit manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants, particularly methamphetamine,” he told a meeting of parties to a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control.

“Relatively few of these substances are being seized,” he told ministers from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam, who are attending the event.

Mr. Costa said some of the most dramatic examples of successful drug control could be found in Asia, particularly regarding opium from the “Golden Triangle” of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, but warned that the spread of synthetic drugs and their precursor chemicals could re-establish networks of trafficking, production and money laundering.

“Progress could be undone by market-induced reversal, production of new drugs, or the opening of new trafficking routes, and new markets. We therefore have to consolidate the progress that has been made, and take further action to prevent a spread of drug abuse.”

Mr. Costa noted that the global market for amphetamine-type stimulants was driven by Asia and 55 per cent of users – some 14 million people – were found on that continent. Most of them use methamphetamine commonly known as “crystal meth” or “ice.”

“This is largely a homemade problem that requires your highest attention,” he told the ministers.